Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Safety Message: Pre-possession Planning Meetings

A current ONRSR investigation has highlighted a concerning issue where safety critical staff such as protection officers are not attending pre-possession planning meetings.

Image i Stock Rail Worker 1487491039 April 2024

In the incident in question, plant and equipment was left on a running line after work had concluded for the day and the line was then re-opened for normal traffic. A scheduled freight train then struck the plant and whilst there was significant damage fortunately there were no injuries.

One of the contributing factors was a misunderstanding by a safety critical worker of the timelines for which the possession was to be in place. There was an unawareness of the plan to reopen the line for the passage of freight trains after work had concluded for the day.

The safety critical worker did not attend the weekly pre-possession planning meetings. If this person had done so there is a high likelihood, they would have been aware of the plan to reopen the line for nighttime rail traffic.

Anecdotal evidence suggests it is a widespread industry issue where Protection Officers (and those in similar roles) are ‘too busy’ and unavailable to attend pre-possession planning meetings.

In light of this ONRSR is scoping out a compliance strategy that will focus on examining the SMS of entities responsible for large scale complex track possessions.

If your SMS does not require safety critical workers such as Protection Officers and Worksite Supervisors to attend appropriate pre-possession planning meetings, then you can expect to be asked to explain your risk-based argument to support this.

In the alternative, if your SMS does require such attendance then you can expect to be asked to provide evidence that it is being complied with.

ONRSR is asking industry to review its procedures regarding attendance at pre-possession planning meetings and to be prepared to be scrutinised by ONRSR in this regard.

For further information please contact your local ONRSR office.

Last updated: Apr 24, 2024, 10:47:09 AM