Thursday, April 20, 2023
ONRSR is highlighting some of the key good practices and requirements for effective management of railway bridges.
ONRSR conducts regulatory activities, including audits, inspections, and site visits, across multiple operators and sectors. In doing so, ONRSR observes both good and bad safety practices.
Rail bridges are key pieces of infrastructure that many Rail Transport Operators (RTOs) are required to manage and maintain safely, so far as is reasonably practicable - as per the Rail Safety National Law.
While not exhaustive, given the range of operational environments within the Australian rail industry, the following examples of good practice should be noted.
RTOs must consider a range of factors, including the likelihood of a hazard and the degree of harm to determine what management practices are reasonably practicable to implement (see the ONRSR Guideline – Meaning of duty to ensure safety so far as is reasonably practicable SFAIRP for more information).
A good safety management system should contain key details across six key areas:
Asset details (such as an asset register) provide information about the bridge itself. Information that asset details should cover includes, but is not limited to:
Documenting the risks and controls for bridges demonstrates that risks are being monitored and managed effectively. Risks can include:
Each of these risks should have controls in place to ensure the safety of the bridge so far as is reasonably practicable. These controls can include:
Procedures underpin the overall process for maintaining bridges. They can include:
Standards define the criteria for how bridges should be maintained. They can include:
Undertaking inspections of bridges helps understand their condition and what repairs or maintenance may be required. Documentation in relation to inspections can include:
Defect management is about ensuring defects or non-conformances are accurately recorded, criticality assessed, tracked, monitored and actioned, ensuring traceability from defect to rectification.
Information in relation to defect management can cover:
Proper bridge maintenance can have additional benefits as well as improved operational safety including:
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 Guideline provides accredited rail transport operators, and those seeking accreditation, with guidance on the legislative requirements for safety management and what the National Rail Safety Regulator (NRSR) looks for when assessing the safety management system, and how to prepare a safety management system that complies with the legislative requirements.
All RTOs managing railway bridges may benefit from reviewing this guideline.