AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Biggest rail safety issues come from safety schemes: ATSB

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> Over a third of safety factors identified by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau in rail investigations over the past three financial years have been related to risk control measures. </span> <p>Of the 154 safety factors identified in rail investigations completed in the 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 financial years, 57 of them were classified as ‘risk control’ factors.</p><p>Risk control factors were more prevalent in rail than in the ATSB’s other modes of study, namely shipping, passenger air travel and general air travel.</p><p>The ATSB classifies risk control factors as “problems with the measures put in place by an organisation to facilitate and assure safe performance of the operational components of the system – that is, operational personnel and equipment.”</p><p>2009-10 was the worst year for risk control factors in rail. 22 were reported in ATSB investigations.</p><p>Just 15 were found in 2010-11, but risk control remained the most common factor in rail incidents. 20 were found last financial year, 2011-12.</p><p>While the number of risk control factors identified in 2011-12 was two less than in 2009-10, there were 18 less overall factors identified in 2011-12, meaning risk control made up a larger proportion of factors than before.</p><p>“In the 2011-12 financial year, risk controls made up the greatest proportion of safety factors identified in completed rail investigations (about 40 per cent),” the ATSB report said.</p><p>“This was different to other transport sectors, where individual actions and local conditions were usually more common.”</p><p>Individual actions are classified by the ATSB as “observable behaviours performed by operational personnel that increase risk.” Local conditions are classified as “conditions which exist in the immediate context or environment” of an incident.</p><p>“In rail occurrences investigated by the ATSB [in the 2011-12 financial year], these made up about 20-25 per cent each of the safety factors identified,” the ATSB said.</p><p>“This was comparable with previous years, except for 2009-2010 investigations. In that year, there were slightly less safety factors identified that related to risk controls, and more individual actions that either contributed to accidents or decreased the safety of operations.”</p><p>Repeatedly at the bottom of the list of contributing factors were technical/mechanism failures and organisational factors, which were found just 10 and 15 times, respectively, in the last three financial years.</p>