Thursday, November 23, 2023
In this safety message, ONRSR is highlighting some of the ways rail transport operators and rail infrastructure managers can apply a human factors lens to maintenance.
Maintenance is a key part of asset management, requiring vigilance by those involved. Key maintenance-related tasks and activities include, but are not limited to:
These activities are often conducted in difficult working conditions, such as restricted workspaces, low lighting and subject to time constraints. They may also involve communication and coordination between different areas of a business including with contractors. Maintenance is reliant on the performance of Rail Safety Workers (RSWs) and maintenance staff, and as with every maintenance activity, there are opportunities for issues or errors to arise e.g.
If not managed, these issues can result in harm to workers as well as major incidents.
Thus, safe and effective maintenance involves the consideration of organisational, workplace/equipment/job and individual factors that can affect performance.
While not exhaustive and given the range of operational environments within the Australian rail industry, the following should be noted as key information and examples of good practices that an effective safety management system should cover to ensure human factors is considered in maintenance.
For simplicity, these have been split across seven key topics.
Human factors applied to rolling stock or rail infrastructure minimises maintenance errors, the time required for maintenance, and the amount of maintenance required. Key aspects to consider include, but are not limited to:
Human factors applied to maintenance-related tasks and activities ensures tasks RSWs and maintenance staff carry out do not lead to incidents. Key aspects to consider include, but are not limited to:
Human factors applied to the workplace environment minimises factors that negatively influence work performance and can result in errors. Key aspects to consider include, but are not limited to:
Human factors applied to maintenance-related documentation, systems and procedures (e.g. standards, work orders, inspection reports, recording systems, checklists, job cards) ensures they are accessible and usable for RSWs and maintenance staff. Key aspects to consider include, but are not limited to:
Human factors applied to shift handover and communications ensures maintenance tasks and activities are adequately transferred between RSWs or people undertaking maintenance. Key aspects to consider include, but are not limited to:
Human factors applied to training ensures RSWs and maintenance staff have the competence to safely carry out maintenance tasks and activities. Key aspects to consider include, but are not limited to:
Human factors applied to incident reporting ensures maintenance issues are reported and then acted upon to prevent recurrence. Key aspects to consider include, but are not limited to:
Following and adopting the advice provided in this document will assist in improving the operational safety of the rail network and have additional benefits including:
In conjunction with the adoption of recommendations within this safety message, operators may benefit from reviewing their SMS. The following list includes, but is not limited to, those systems and procedures likely to be most relevant for review:
Please see ONRSR Guideline - Safety Management System Guideline for more information.
The Safety Management System Guideline provides accredited rail transport operators, and those seeking accreditation, with guidance on the legislative requirements for safety management systems. It also details what ONRSR looks for when assessing safety management systems, and how to prepare a safety management system that complies with the legislative requirements.
All rail transport operators managing railway track may benefit from reviewing this guideline.