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Highlighting rail safety

By Martin Dolan, Chief CommissionerMartin Dolan

This week marks Rail Safety Week—an important initiative where organisations across Australia and New Zealand come to together to promote rail safety to the community. 

During the week (12 to 18 August), a range of safety messages are directed to the public and local communities to increase awareness about how to stay safe around level crossings and railway lines.

As Australia’s national rail safety investigator, the ATSB is participating in Rail Safety Week to highlight the top safety issues we see from our investigation findings and the occurrences reported to us. 

This year, our focus is on safe work on rail. We’ve investigated several accidents that occurred when maintenance work was being carried out around railway tracks—accidents that were primarily the result of safe working rules and procedures not being correctly implemented.

We think more can be done to improve the safety of rail workers, particularly in the areas of good work practices, coordination and communications.

To better promote safe work on rail, the ATSB produced a short video highlighting the consequences of what can happen when things go wrong. The video features animation from a rail accident at Newbridge, NSW where a passenger train collided with an excavator. Tragically, a rail worker died as a result of the collision.

The video serves as a powerful reminder to operators and workers on the importance of implementing safe working rules and procedures to protect the worksite. As the video reveals, safe work on track requires a high level of preparation and organisation. Coordination and communication are vital.

Anyone with an interest in rail safety is encouraged to watch the video on our YouTube channel, ATSBinfo. You can also find out more about staying safe while working around rail at the ATSB SafetyWatch initiative.  

I congratulate the organisers and participants of Rail Safety Week for a highly collaborative and powerful safety campaign. Now in its eighth year, I have no doubt that Rail Safety Week will continue to significantly improve safety and ultimately save lives. 

Written by Martin Dolan, Chief Commissioner at 9:49 AM