Network Rail has put an executive director in charge of each element of its Ten Point Plan. Safety experts believe this will increase impetus and secure the resources needed to make rapid progress with the wide ranging safety plan. The idea that railway safety is better than it used to be has been roundly condemned by the leadership.
‘We need to stop thinking it’s better now, so that’s alright. It’s not alright and we have a long way to go,’ says David Higgins, current CEO. The aim of the Ten Point Plan is to provide better co-ordination between initiatives and more momentum behind the safety agenda. The ten executives are headed by David Higgins, still in post till the end of March.
1. Roles and Responsibilities
Executive Owner: David Higgins, chief executive – until March.
The Problem: Risk can arise where there is a lack of clarity about who is responsible for safety, a COSS or Team Leader, for example. People away from a work site also have a huge influence on safety. Among others these include work planners, designers and signallers.
Objectives: Clarify which roles impact on the safety of others and set out who’s responsible for safety at what stage of any work process. This will remove ambiguity and reduce risk.
2. Technology Interventions
Executive Owner: Jerry England, group asset management director.
The Problem: Eliminating risk is the most effective way of improving safety. By using technology, Network Rail can reduce or remove completely the need for high-risk tasks to be carried out manually. This will improve workforce safety.
Objectives: Identify highest-risk activities. Seek out technological tools that can reduce or remove direct human involvement in those tasks.
Executive Owner: Paul Plummer, group strategy director.
The Problem: Recent fatalities and road accidents have shown there is a clear risk in Network Rail associated with driving road vehicles.
Objectives: Review and clarify how Network Rail staff use vehicles and make it clear to everyone the rules around driving safely.
4. Fair Culture
Executive Owner: Gareth Llewellyn, safety and sustainable development director.
The Problem: Until now there has been no consistent way of dealing with unsafe behaviour and those who put colleagues at risk. Lifesaving Rules, if they are to work, must be enforced with a structure of consequences for all those involved that are agreed and fair.
Objectives: Network Rail has agreed the principles of a fair culture. Network Rail will now make sure the business uses the framework that has been established with the trades unions to treat people that have broken the Lifesaving Rules in a fair, appropriate and reasonable manner.
A fair culture will encourage colleagues to use close-call reporting. Action will be taken as a result of such reports. This will reform unsafe behaviour and reduce incidents.
5. Safety Conversations
Executive Owner: Tom Kelly, director corporate communications.
The Problem: To achieve a step change in safety it is crucial people hear a consistent safety message right throughout the organisation. Leaders and managers need to be trained to talk to all of their teams about all aspects of safety. Leaders must also listen to what their teams tell them about safety.
Objectives: Network Rail will support a culture where everyone feels they can engage in conversations about safety and know they will be rewarded for raising concerns. The object is to get everyone talking about safety and understanding it is their responsibility.
6. Safe Teams
Executive Owner: Suzanne Wise, general counsel.
The Problem: To prevent accidents from happening, staff need to look out for each other at work. Staff need teams to identify risks locally and create solutions locally. Previously the focus was on investigation post- incident rather than trying to stop incidents happening.
Objectives: Building on work done at the Bristol Delivery Unit, teams will be encouraged to focus on identifying and proactively managing local safety risks. Local teams will be able to capitalise on the expertise of trades union health and safety reps.
7. Learning from Incidents
Executive Owner: Patrick Butcher, group finance director.
The Problem: Too often the same mistake is made twice. The businesses need to learn quickly from incidents and introduce changes that stop repeat incidents from ever occurring.
Objectives: Review how staff learn from incidents and devise ways to roll out lessons and solutions quickly.
8. Planning Safe Work
Executive Owner: Robin Gisby, managing director, network operations.
The Problem: At present the way in which work is planned can lead to safety failures. Too often plans include information that is inaccurate, incomplete, inefficient or hard to understand. This puts people at risk.
Objectives: Introduce planning processes to reinforce safety in the control of work process. Involve people who actually do the work in planning the work. Introduce more visual plans which are quick and easy to understand.
9. Frontline Supervision
Executive Owner: Richard Doyle, director of human resources.
The Problem: On any worksite the frontline supervisor is critical to ensuring the safety of the people working there. It is essential to ensure that all supervisors have the skills to maintain a safe worksite.
Objectives: Once managers have agreed roles and responsibilities for frontline supervisors, they will put in place training for all frontline supervisors to ensure they have the skills they need to do their job and ensure their teams go home safe at the end of every shift – day and night.
10. Safe Contractors
Executive Owner: Simon Kirby, managing director, infrastructure projects.
The Problem: Whilst Network Rail has made progress in improving safety for its immediate workforce, the welfare of contractors and contractors’ contractors needs to be better addressed. Incidents in the last year prove this is an area that needs more attention.
Objectives: Review the safety criteria used when selecting contractors. Look at safety standards right throughout the supply chain. Consider how safety performance is incentivised and suppliers are benchmarked against safety indexes.
‘We can’t leave safety to chance,’ says safety director, Gareth Llewellyn. ‘We need a new safety culture in the business and we need to understand why we’re putting people in unsafe situations.
‘Our ten point plan, which incorporates the Lifesaving Rules, is about bringing everything together. We want to tackle these issues in a co-ordinated way. This is how we’ll achieve that.’