Friday 25th Sep, 2020

RISSB’s track worker safety focus

RISSB is launching a program focusing on the safety of frontline track workers across Australia.

The program of work focusing on frontline track workers follows extensive consultation with industry leaders, including those who attended a track worker safety forum in December 2019. These consultations demonstrated consistent agreement that track worker safety is a significant industry priority.

RISSB’s Australian Rail Risk Model (ARRM www.arrm.org.au) makes it very clear that track worker safety is a major issue for the rail industry. ARRM quantifies the risk of harm, and while the railway is generally very safe, it shows that the risk to our people makes up around 26 per cent of the risk that is present. ARRM further shows that risk breaks down broadly as indicated in the chart.

Industry, including CEOs and COOs, understands this, and RISSB has responded by developing a comprehensive program building on work already completed or underway on track worker safety. Informed by consultations with industry and insights from ARRM, the program spans work packages across five key areas.

  1. TECHNOLOGY
    • RISSB is joining forces with ONRSR and ACRI to undertake research into current and emerging technological solutions. Our industry has tried administrative controls over the past few decades, now let’s push towards better use of engineering controls. This will lead to work to help the railway assess and adopt potential solutions.
  2. PLANNING WORKS
    • RISSB will develop guidance material for planning works in the rail corridor. As an industry we have a long history of planning and executing works, and yet problems or changes to the plan are regular contributing factors in occurrences.
    • Digital Engineering (DE) – we have written a Code of Practice on DE, this year we will explore the development of a Standard to enable this technology for more efficient, lower cost, and safer planning of works.
  3. SKILLS / COMPETENCIES
    • RISSB is working with industry to introduce the National Track Safety Induction (NTSI) Course in mid-2020. The NTSI course will deliver competency in TLIF2080 (Safely Accessing the Rail Corridor). The NTSI has been developed to make it easier for employees to move and work across jurisdictions, and for employers to ensure staff meet national training requirements.• Protection Officers have a hard role, often in difficult circumstances. We will explore with industry how we can strengthen the safety benefit this critical function brings. A high-quality, national Protection Officer training course will deliver value.
  4. SAFETY CRITICAL COMMUNICATIONS
    • In 2019, RISSB published the National Rules Framework. We have now brought industry together to produce a streamlined, contemporary national rule around communications – another regular contributing factor in occurrences. This work, carried out under the auspices of the National Rules Industry Reference Group will seek to produce a detailed rule that all rail companies can adopt, making it the industry benchmark. We will work with the rail industry to identify and develop other areas once the communications test case has proven itself.
    • The communications rule work will dovetail with RISSB’s existing Safety Critical Communications training package and complement RISSB’s existing Safety Critical Communications Guideline.
    • During 2020, RISSB will write a Standard for Safety Critical Communications.
  5. CULTURE
    • We will produce guidance for achieving a positive safety culture in the rail corridor. Our people on the front line must have control over safety aspects of the work that they’re doing, and they must be empowered to make decisions about it.
    • RISSB will soon be launching its safety culture survey – the Occupational Culture Work Health and Safety (OcWHaS) survey and will make it available to industry. 

    These initiatives will build on work RISSB has undertaken on track worker safety including:
    • Publishing AS 7479 Collision Avoidance and Proximity Warning on Track Maintenance Vehicles Including Road Rail Vehicles.
    • The development of a Safety Critical Communications course for industry and specific RTOs.
    • A focus on track worker safety in conferences and forums.

    RISSB will progress this new program of work, in conjunction with industry groups, to take input and advice learning from international railways.

    Contributing industry groups include:
    • The National Track Worker Safety Forum;
    • The Safety Managers Group;
    • The Safety Standing Committee;
    • The National Rules Industry Reference Group; and
    • The Human Factors Managers Group.

    Anyone interested in being involved in the safety of track workers can contact Jesse Baker, RISSB general manager safety and innovation at: jbaker@rissb.com.au.


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