Audits of accredited and registered Rail Transport Operators (RTOs) are a proactive measure and a key activity of ONRSR to:
- Monitor the implementation, application and effectiveness of the RTO's Safety Management System (SMS) and verify:
- the SMS is compliant with the requirements of the Rail Safety National Law (RSNL);
- the SMS is being used to manage the safety of the RTO's railway operations; and
- the SMS is effective in addressing the safety risks associated with the RTO's railway operations.
- Monitor an RTO's compliance with any conditions or restrictions of its notice of accreditation, notice of registration or notice of exemption and all applicable requirements of the RSNL.
- Provide formal regulatory advice, where necessary, as to whether an RTO is complying with its rail safety duties and legislative obligations.
The frequency and extent of the audits are determined through a risk-based approach, using available rail safety data, intelligence, and inspection and investigation findings. Audits are programmed as part of ONRSR’s planned work program or may be triggered in response to a specific safety incident or emerging safety issue.
While typically directed towards accredited RTOs, contractors and other RSNL duty-holders may also be subject to audits.
Audits are conducted by rail safety officers, one of which will be identified as the lead officer who will manage the audit and will be identified as ONRSR’s primary contact for the RTO in regard to the audit.
Key steps within the ONRSR audit process are:
- Notification of audit
- Opening meeting
- Conducting the audit
- Exit meeting
- Provision of a Preliminary Audit Report
- Consideration of RTO comments on the Preliminary Audit Report
- Issuing of the Final Audit Report
- Seek and receive RTO plan(s) to address any identified non-conformances
Rail safety officers will continue to monitor the RTO’s progress in addressing the corrective actions, this may include seeking updates or conducting additional compliance monitoring activities.
When conducting an audit, ONRSR reserves the right to undertake appropriate enforcement action at any time in response to the issue(s) identified during an audit. In circumstances where a significant issue is detected, or there is an immediate risk to safety, a rail safety officer may choose to:
- change the audit scope to explore the risk to safety in greater detail;
- suspend an audit;
- immediately commence an inspection; or
- take enforcement action as deemed necessary to eliminate the risk.
Rail Transport Operator Expectations
An RTO, or other party, that is being audited is expected to:
- ensure that any person required to attend the audit is available to attend, that any documentation required is available, and that any site to be visited is accessible;
- ensure that the lead rail safety officer is advised prior to the audit date of any PPE required for the site at which the audit will be conducted;
- ensure that a site safety briefing is provided to the audit team for any rail premises to be entered (usually part of the opening meeting);
- provide any information requested by the audit team;
- provide access to any infrastructure and/or rolling stock requested by the audit team;
- provide reasonable assistance to the audit team in carrying out their duties;
- provide, in a timely manner, any further information requested by rail safety officers after the audit; and
- actively work towards the closure of any non-conformances identified in the audit report and address any other regulatory actions that may be an outcome from the audit, such as improvement notices or prohibition notices.
Rail Transport Operator Rights
RTOs have the right to see the identity card showing the appointment of the rail safety officer who is conducting an audit under the RSNL.
RTOs will be provided with a Preliminary Audit Report and will be able to make comments in writing on any factual inaccuracies within the document. Comments must not seek to influence or change the report and supporting evidence will need to be provided to support any amendments that may be suggested.
Last updated: 3 August 2020