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HSE publishes audit of Railtrack's safety systems

  HSE : Friday February 25 2000
A systematic audit of Railtrack's Safety systems has revealed shortcomings in safety management but claims that the profit motive was put before safety are unsubstantiated.
The audit, undertaken by 14 inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and one from the Civil Aviation Authority, was prompted by the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, following the Paddington rail crash on 5 October 1999, when 31 people died and 245 people were injured in a crash between GWT Trains and Thames Trains.

HSE's Deputy Director General, David Eves, who led the audit team, said:

"It is widely recognised that effective management systems are the key to securing high levels of safety performance and I am pleased that Railtrack have already started to implement the measures which were highlighted by this thorough review.

"The audit acknowledges that considerable resources are being devoted to safety by Railtrack but conclude that there is potential for achieving better effect through stimulating an increased pace in the evolution of safety management systems across the industry. An example of this is that Railtrack could use its pivotal role to securing better systems for controlling the access of Train Operating Companies (TOCs) to the network."

The key findings of the audit published today by the Health and Safety Executive are:-
  • Railtrack could enhance its leadership role within the Railway Group by leading the development of Group Standards for key safety management system processes such as investigation, inspection and audit;
  • Railtrack could improve the way it seeks to secure Train Operating Companies' (TOCs) compliance with their safety cases by:
    • expanding the scope and nature of monitoring TOC performance, particularly at Railtrack Zone level;
    • clarifying what constitutes unacceptable TOC performance and the means for securing remedial action;
    • improving the co-ordination of activity and information on TOCs collected by Railtrack's Safety and Standards Department and Railtrack Line.
  • Within the Line, Railtrack could enhance safety management by improving:
    • the performance criteria for the key components of its safety management system;
    • the use of risk assessment both in establishing performance criteria and in proportionately allocating resources and prioritising safety management actions;
    • active monitoring at corporate and Zone level by developing key performance indicators which enable an assessment of overall performance and permit real time re-allocation of resource according to emerging needs;
    • investigation of accidents and incidents to establish underlying causes and consistent, comprehensive analysis of common causes and trends;
    • auditing so that activity is targeted at need, co-ordinated across the organisation, reported in a helpful style, audit actions closed out speedily, and underlying causes analysed to achieve continuous improvement;
    • the information for review to enable an overall corporate picture of performance to be gauged so that better strategic decisions can be taken;
    • external benchmarking with other high hazard industries on safety management system documentation, processes and safety culture as an aid to learning and continuous improvement in safety management practice.
Copies of The Management of Safety in Railtrack, ISBN 0717 617 629, price £10, are available from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 6FS, tel: 01787-881165 or fax: 01787-313995. Priced publications are also available from booksellers.

Source: Health and Safety Executive

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This file last updated: Friday, 25-Feb-2000 19:47:31 EST
Copyright © David Fry 1999