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Communication to persons within Track Occupancy Authority boundaries

Issue number: RO-2010-007-SI-01
Who it affects: Rail infrastructure managers and track maintainers
Issue owner: Australian Rail Track Corporation
Operation affected: Rail: Operations control
Background: Investigation Report RO-2010-007
Date: 18 April 2011

Safety issue description

Rule ANWT 304 (ARTC) NWT 304 (RailCorp) does not stipulate that the Protection Officer must inform all persons or work groups who may be within the boundaries of a Track Occupancy Authority of its existence. This is regardless of whether or not these persons or work groups fit the definition of ‘work parties’ or ‘workers’.

Recommendation

Action organisation: ARTC
Action number: RO-2010-007-SR-006
Date: 18 April 2011
Action status: Closed

Rule ANWT 304 does not stipulate that the Protection Officer must inform all persons or work groups who may be within the boundaries of a Track Occupancy Authority of its existence. This is regardless of whether or not these persons or work groups fit the definition of 'work parties' or 'workers'.

ATSB response:

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that the Australian Rail Track Corporation take action to address this safety issue.

Correspondence

Date received: 11 July 2011
Response from: ARTC
Response text:

Protection Officer responsibilities

The responsibilities of the Protection Officer are clearly defined in Rule ANWT304. ARTC acknowledges the need for all affected workers to be aware of the protection arrangements and limits associated with a Track Occupancy Authority. However ARTC suggests that it is neither feasible nor realistic to expect the Protection Officer to inform persons other than those associated with the Track Occupancy Authority about the kinds and limits of protection in place. In this instance, the Network Controller was not contacted by Pacific National personnel. Had they complied with Network Rules and spoken to the Network Controller, prior to commencing activities within the danger zone, they would have been made aware of the TOA. It was clearly not the responsibility of the Protection Officer to contact Pacific National.

Response to safety issue

RailCorp accepts the recommendation, but is claiming closure on the basis that Safety Management System (SMS) procedure SMS-06-PR-1419 Pre-work Briefings expressly requires all persons involved in activities at the work location to be given a pre-work brief (section 3). This procedure also mandates the inclusion of worksite protection details in such pre-work briefs.

RailCorp considers that a TOA was an inappropriate method of protection and the existing requirements in NWT 304 would have precluded this method of protection being used. A TOA gives exclusive occupancy except where there is joint occupancy with:

  • another TOA or Track work Authority (TWA) and mutual arrangements have been made by the respective Protection Officers; or
  • a train movement; or
  • with a disabled train.

In this incident these exceptions to exclusive occupancy were not applicable and therefore a TOA should not have been authorised.

ATSB response:

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau accepts the RailCorp response to address this safety issue.

Recommendation

Action organisation: RailCorp
Action number: RO-2010-007-SR-007
Date: 18 April 2011
Action status: Closed

Rule NWT 304 does not stipulate that the Protection Officer must inform all persons or work groups who may be within the boundaries of a Track Occupancy Authority of its existence. This is regardless of whether or not these persons or work groups fit the definition of 'work parties' or 'workers'.

ATSB response:

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau accepts the RailCorp response to address this safety issue.

Correspondence

Date received: 07 July 2011
Response from: RailCorp
Response text:

RailCorp has accepted the ATSB's recommendation but RailCorp stated in their response that the incorrect rule was used to protect the worksite.

   
Current issue status: Adequately addressed
Status justification:

RailCorp accepts the recommendation, but is claiming closure on the basis that Safety Management System (SMS) procedure SMS-06-PR-1419 Pre-work Briefings expressly requires all persons involved in activities at the work location to be given a pre-work brief (section 3). This procedure also mandates the inclusion of worksite protection details in such pre-work briefs. The ARTC advised it is neither feasible nor realistic to expect the Protection Officer to inform persons other than those associated with the Track Occupancy Authority about the kinds of protection in place. The ATSB has reassessed the risks associated with this safety issue and while there is still a minor risk of serious injury or fatality, the ATSB believes the responses provided by the ARTC and RailCorp are adequate to address this safety issue.

 
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Last update 15 March 2016