The reporter stated that [Operator] has failed to implement adequate training and awareness of hand signalling to track workers operating in hazardous areas, opting instead to outsource the responsibility to external protection officers. The reporter believes that the protection to track workers is inadequate, which is evident by a fatal incident and several near misses in the past decade. The reporter states that [Operator] has a significantly higher number of near misses than other operators throughout Australia.
In addition, the reporter believes that the Regulator has failed in its duty to adequately investigate and/or enforce findings regarding these near misses, evident by reoccurring incidents.
Operator's response (Operator 1)
Whilst the report does not provide specific information about how training inadequacies have resulted in safety incidents, [Operator] can provide a general response.
Track workers are not required to have "hand signalling" training unless they are required to carry out hand signaller duties. All track workers are required to have Rail Industry Safety Induction (RISI) training, which prepares them for working in an active rail corridor.
All rail workers, whether employees or contractors, are subject to the requirements of the [Operator] Safeworking Certification Standard and the [Operator] Safeworking Training standard.
All rail workers, whether employees or contractors, are required to be trained by Registered Training Organisations (RT0s) approved by [Operator] Organisation and Development. An assessment of competence for employees or contractors can only be carried out by [Operator] Organisation and Development.
[Operator] cannot respond to claims about the rate of incidents for other operators or the actions of the rail Regulator.
Regulator's response (Regulator 1)
ONRSR has reviewed the information provided within REPCON Report Number: RR201800028.
ONRSR is committed to promoting rail safety throughout Australia including track worker safety. Following analysis of occurrence data and regulatory intelligence ONRSR has made track worker safety a national priority for 2017 and 2018. Throughout 2018, ONRSR has conducted a number of regulatory activities on [Operator] with a specific focus on track worker safety. In addition to this, ONRSR conducts a wide range of regulatory activities of [Operator] rail operations including announced and unannounced compliance inspections, site visits, audits, occurrence follow up enquiries and compliance investigations. This includes conducting regulatory activities on third party contractors that supply rail safety workers that work under the Safety Management System of [Operator]. Furthermore, ONRSR has recently conducted a further review of track worker safety at [Operator] and is liaising with the operator regarding the implementation of measures to enhance safety and manage risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
Regarding the reporter’s statement about the number of near misses involving the operator compared to other operators throughout Australia, ONRSR is subject to confidentiality provisions within the Rail Safety National Law (RSNL) and any publication of data we collect will be in a non-identified format and will report on industry level performance. We may provide factual information on incidents that are in the public domain but will not comment publically on individual rail transport information. Further rail safety occurrence data can be found in the ONRSR Rail Safety Report for 2016-2017 found on the ONRSR website at the following link: www.onrsr.com.au/publications/rail-safety-report.
In relation to the reporter’s statement that the regulator has failed in its duty to adequately investigate and / or enforce findings regarding near misses, ONRSR has a range of functions in order to achieve the primary objective of encourage safe rail operations, ensure compliance with the RSNL and to promote and improve national rail safety. These functions includes but is not limited to, administering the accreditation regime of rail transport operators under the RSNL, to monitor, investigation and enforce compliance with the RSNL using a risk based approach to regulation which includes [operator]. Further details of the approach used by ONRSR in rail regulation can be found in the ONRSR Way document, available on the ONRSR website at the following link: www.onrsr.com.au/publications/the-onrsr-way.