Wednesday, December 13, 2023
ONRSR investigations and those conducted by other regulatory authorities have identified both good and poor practice when managing risks that arise when unexpected changes occur during railway operations.
When operations change from what is considered ‘normal’ operations (how the railway was designed to operate), they can enter a ‘degraded’ or ‘abnormal state’. If the events that lead to these states are not managed safely to return to ‘normal’ operations, the risk to safety can become uncontrolled, and may lead to an occurrence.
ONRSR has called these types of events Altered Working Arrangements.
However you define your Altered Working Arrangements, safety risks must be identified, assessed controlled and monitored – as required by the rail safety duties of the Rail Safety National Law (RSNL) (section 52) and the safety management system (SMS) requirements contained in sections 99 and 101.
In this safety message, ONRSR highlights some of the good practices with respect to managing safety risks during Altered Working Arrangements.
ONRSR has examined a range of rail occurrences, including those in other countries and has identified some common contributing factors to the successful management of Altered Working Arrangements:
For simplicity, these good practices are discussed under six key areas:
This helps determine what could occur so that you know what to do when something unexpected does occur. Key aspects involved include, but are not limited to:
Detecting changes, such as moving from ‘normal’ to ‘abnormal’ or ‘degraded’ operations enables you to be ready to implement corresponding controls and prevents the situation from escalating. Key aspects involved include, but are not limited to:
Developing response strategies is about ensuring RTOs identify all the various events that lead to an Altered Working Arrangement and preparing controls so that risks are adequately managed. Key aspects involved include, but are not limited to:
These ensure everyone knows their role, what they are responsible for and can adequately implement required controls. Key aspects involved include, but are not limited to:
Operators should ensure that systems continue to adequately manage Altered Working Arrangements and continuously improve. Key aspects involved in monitoring and review include, but are not limited to:
An RTO’s preparation and training can easily be undone by undue commercial, political or production pressures and influences. In order to avoid this, systems and procedures should also address “management bias” and promote a safety focussed work culture while managing an Altered Working Arrangement. Key aspects involved include: