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.

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.


RISSB making progress on rationalising, simplifying, and harmonising railway rules

RISSB’s ongoing efforts to harmonise the rail industry are taking major steps forward.

For well over 100 years our railways have debated and discussed but ultimately been disappointed by our diverging rulebooks. Since federation, the rail commissioners from each state would come together annually and share good practice, but rulebooks remained stubbornly immune to harmonisation. You
can trace the origins of RISSB from those meetings, through their production of the Railways of Australia (ROA) manual, the creation of the Defined Interstate Rail Network (the DIRN) and its catalysation of the ROA manual into the Codes of Practice for the DIRN, which was purchased by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) creating the Code Management Company – a direct descendant of RISSB.

RISSB, now an independent organisation, and industry’s partner in co-regulation, has not given up.

Since its inception, RISSB has managed the Australian Network Rules and Procedures (ANRP) which brought together the disparate train operations and work on track rules from around Australia into a centralised rulebook.

However, for all its successes, the ANRP is a mix of rules as well as lower level procedures, and in many areas, it contains different options on how to achieve outcomes.

In 2018, RISSB initiated the National Rules project, which – in February 2020 – reached a significant milestone with the delivery of the new National Rules Framework. The Framework provides a principles-based platform for rail transport operators (RTOs) in development of their own rulebooks, thereby bringing greater consistency around the country. It is very pleasing to see that there are already several major railways around the country utilising the framework either as a basis for their own rulebook redevelopment, or as an audit check to ensure their existing rulebooks are providing the necessary breadth of coverage.

It is also important to mention that one of the earlier deliverables of the project was to establish and get industry agreement to the Fundamental Operating Principles (FOPs) which would then become the cornerstone of the National Rules Framework. Industry agreed to the following seven FOPs:

  1. Separation of rail traffic
    Principle: Rail traffic must maintain safe separation via an appropriate method of signalling.
  2. Movement authority for rail traffic
    : Before any rail traffic is allowed to start or continue moving, it must have an authority to move that clearly indicates the limit of that authority.
  3. Interface management of transport modes
    Principle: Rail traffic and other transport modes must be separated, or the interface managed.
  4. Conditions for safe movement of rail traffic
    : Rail traffic must be prevented from moving if the infrastructure’s integrity is suspected to be in an unsafe state.
  5. Hazards to safe operation from unsafe rail traffic
    Principle: Rail traffic must be prevented from moving if the rail traffic’s integrity is suspected to be in an unsafe state.
  6. Compatibility of rail traffic and infrastructure
    Principle: Rail traffic shall only operate on compatible infrastructure.
  7. Keeping people away from moving or stationary rail traffic
    Principle: Safe separation must be maintained between people and rail traffic.

The next major phase of this project is to identify those individual rules – not entire rulebooks – where the industry wants harmonisation to improve safety and deliver business benefits consistent with the FOPs. Opportunities to further simplify and rationalise the 56 ANRPs will also be explored in this phase of the project.

To that end, in April this year the National Rules Industry Reference Group, a group of senior business leaders from the railway sector’s 14 largest companies, met and agreed:

  • To proceed in the area of communications,
  • That their organisation will adopt the agreed harmonised national rule/s once developed – effectively self-mandating them, and
  • That once a harmonised national rule is produced, and accepted into RTOs rulebooks, it will be recognised as such, and somehow reasonably protected to prevent future divergence.

The governance structure was also agreed with this group maintaining stewardship and oversight of national rules harmonisation.

It’s been a long road, but we’re making great progress in rationalising and simplifying rules, and helping the railway drive out unnecessary cost and inefficiency. We’re very excited to be entering this next phase of the work.

The National Rules Framework is available at www.rissb.com.au/products-main/national-operations/

The National Operations Publications

In its ongoing efforts to standardise rail safety, RISSB has released a new resource for industry.

Last month RISSB reached a milestone in its work towards harmonising rail operations throughout Australia with the online publication of a set of documents that contain safe working instructions for Rail Transport Operators (RTOs) – The National Operations Publications.

The National Operations Publications webpage contains both the Operational Concept for the Australian Rail Network (the Concept) and the National Rules Framework (the Framework).

The Concept contains seven fundamental operating principles and provides the highest level of incident prevention for all RTO’s:

The seven principles are:

  • Rail traffic must maintain safe separation via an appropriate method of signalling;
  • Before any rail traffic is allowed to start or continue moving, it must have an authority to move that clearly indicates the limit of that authority;
  • Rail traffic and other transport modes must be separated, or the interface managed;
  • Rail traffic must be prevented from moving if the infrastructure’s integrity is suspected to be in an unsafe state;
  • Rail traffic must be prevented from moving if the rail traffic’s integrity is suspected to be in an unsafe state;
  • Rail traffic must only operate on compatible infrastructure; and
  • Safe separation must be maintained between people and rail traffic.

Rail Safety National Law requires RTO’s to demonstrate consideration of risk in all rail operations, that consideration includes the application or exclusion of risk controls. RISSB recognises that in a risk-based co-regulatory environment, every RTO has their own list of hazards and a unique risk profile and to that end, RTO’s implement operational rules.

The National Rules Framework consists of rules based on the seven fundamental operating principles, which are nationally applicable within the Australian rail industry. Each rule within the Framework has been mapped to one of seven fundamental operating principles providing RTOs with a logical progression for hazard and “top events” identification.

The Framework provides industry with a nationally consistent approach to the creation of risk-based operational rules and procedures.

The National Rules Framework:

  • Incorporates nationally applicable rules to cover rail operations and alignment to specific roles within rail operations;
  • Contains content derived from the Australian National Rule and Procedures to ensure each rule meets the intent of a set of rail operation principles;
  • Incorporates new technology to ensure that it is captured in the Framework; and
  • Demonstrates traceability to the associated risks for which the rule is providing guidance on mitigation.

In the coming months, RISSB will continue to refine the Framework by:

  • Reconvening the National Rules Advisory Group;
  • Consulting with senior executives of RISSB members;
  • Conducting industry workshops to identify opportunities for harmonisation;
  • Identifying and drawing upon on those rules and procedures, which currently remain, within the ANRP and can be refined to a nationally applicable; and
  • Gaining commitment from its members, to move towards national harmonisation and interoperability.

The following diagram illustrates the conceptual relationship and traceability between documents within the National Operations Publications and those within an RTO’s network rules.

Based on seven fundamental principles, the Publications attempt to provide high standards of incident prevention.

Members seeking to help refine the Framework, or requiring assistance in the training and application of the Framework within their organisation, should contact RISSB for further information.

To access the National Rules Framework and the Operational Concept for the Australian Rail Network, RISSB members should visit www.rissb. com.au/products-main/national-operations.