ONRSR deploys its investigative resources in order to establish whether a breach of the Rail Safety National Law (RSNL) has occurred.
An investigation is a formal, detailed and compliance focused examination of the circumstances and operators’ actions associated with an occurrence or safety issue. An investigation to establish whether a breach of the RSNL has occurred may be conducted in response to a range of circumstances including but not limited to:
ONRSR will always carry out a site investigation of a reportable work-related death, unless there are other specific reasons for not doing so, in which case those reasons will be recorded.
In selecting which complaints or reports of incidents or injury to investigate, and in deciding the level of resources to be used, ONRSR will take account of the following factors:
ONRSR will investigate in order to determine:
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is responsible for identifying the causes of accidents it investigates in order to improve safety; it does not allocate blame.
Working arrangements agreed between ONRSR and the ATSB reflect both their respective statutory duties and the need to ensure efficient and effective liaison. ONRSR and the ATSB have a Memorandum of Understanding in place.
Following a rail safety incident, the regulator may issue a rail transport operator with a Notice to Conduct an Investigation under s122 of the RSNL - requiring the operator to undertake an investigation into the occurrence.
This may occur because ONRSR is concerned:
The notice will typically set out the:
The RTO retains the ability to investigate the incident in a broader nature and in line with its safety management system. The onus remains on the RTO to identify and rectify safety issues that are identified through the investigation.
It is important that the final investigation report provided to ONRSR addresses all the matters outlined in the scope of the notice. If the investigation report is incomplete it is likely further requests for information will be made or compliance activities undertaken.
Further guidance on what ONRSR expects from industry investigation reports is provided in the Investigation Reports by rail transport operators Guideline.
The findings and recommendations will be examined to gain a better understanding of the incident and how the RTO is managing safety. ONRSR may use the investigation report to inform its audit and inspection activities for the individual RTO(s) involved in the incident or at a broader industry level.
The information contained in the investigation report provided under a notice cannot be used by ONRSR as evidence against the RTO in civil or criminal proceedings (other than proceedings arising out of the false or misleading nature of the information or document).