Final checks before submitting your safety case

When you finish your safety case there are a number of checks you can do to make sure it’s complete – with the main one being that it’s working for your organisation and providing value for your staff and customers.

We’ve outlined some additional checks and considerations on this page.

If you already have a safety case and are looking to get some changes approved, see Safety case variations.

We’ll work with you

Getting your safety case approved can sometimes be a gradual process. If you’re finding it difficult, get in touch with us and we’ll work with you to get it to completion. Remember, you’re not submitting something to be graded, we’re working together to get a complete, accurate and valuable document so we’ll be providing the advice you need to get it there.

How will I know that my organisation's safety case works?

The statements below provide a good high-level check of your safety case. They should all be true.

  • Your board/committee/owner stands behind your safety case.
  • Your safety case addresses all your rail safety-related legal obligations.
  • All of your staff understand the sections relevant to them.
  • You would have something similar even if you didn’t need to provide it to the regulator.
  • You would be happy to show your safety case to your passengers and customers.

Does my organisation's safety case include everything it needs to?

The Railways Act 2005 lists the content required for a safety case in Section 30 - Contents of a safety case(external link) and you can use this legislation as a checklist of sorts. The example structure provides links to each piece of relevant legislation, so if you’ve followed that, everything should be included.

The bullets below summarise these requirements in plain English:

  • Rail activities and where they take place
  • Identified risks from rail activities
  • Systems in place to identify and assess safety risks
  • Systems in place to mitigate risks
  • Systems in place to develop and implement control measures
  • Process for ensuring work with other rail participants enhances safety
  • Process for ensuring currency of safety case, safety system and licence conditions
  • Policies in place to ensure rail personnel are fit for duty
  • Consultation process for safety system changes that affect personnel
  • How safety is managed and promoted
  • Safety policy and objectives and how they are implemented
  • How assets and equipment are fit for purpose
  • How safety critical tasks are identified
  • Process for ensuring staff receive appropriate training and competency testing
  • How key safety performance measures and factors are identified, monitored, recorded and reported on
  • Process for safety assessments by the regulator
  • Process for ensuring safety is maintained, and improved as circumstances change or significant risks are identified

How do I keep my organisation's safety case up to date?

In the interests of safety it is important for you to conduct regular reviews of your risks. This is what you should have outlined in the monitoring section of your safety case.

Your safety case should be at a high enough level that minor changes in risks over time are covered by the safety management system you have outlined. You will need to update it following changes in cited legislation or agencies, which will acknowledge your awareness of the changes and how they affect you. When you identify risks that aren’t being managed appropriately you will need to request a variation, see Safety case variations.

When is my organisation's safety case used?

While your safety case is used by your organisation every day as you manage the risks of your operation, the document is officially used on a number of occasions to regulate safety, which have been listed below.

Applying for a licence

Part of being granted a rail licence includes having your safety case approved by Waka Kotahi.

Rail assessments

Part of being a licensed rail participant involves periodic assessments of your rail activities. When Waka Kotahi performs this assessment, they are essentially assessing whether your operations are compliant with the safety commitments and approach outlined in your safety case.


If there is a rail accident or incident in your organisation, or a near miss, your safety case is often an important reference document to ensure operations were carried out in accordance with your safety approach.

Interoperability discussions

When your rail activity interacts with other rail participants, the management of these interactions needs to be covered in your safety case. Your safety case can be a useful reference document in these discussions also.

Safety case and safety system reviews

Your safety case should be periodically reviewed (aside from assessments), which will normally coincide with reviews of your safety systems. The trigger for a safety case variation may not always be a change in your rail activities, and could arise from operational monitoring and findings.

Internal audits

Audits help you discover whether the controls detailed in your safety case are being carried out and whether they’re working. They ensure your team are in compliance with procedures, policies and rules and that your safety equipment is in place and working.

Third party audits with other rail participants

When a third party carries out an audit, your safety case may be required as an information source or as evidence that safety controls are in place for all aspects of your operation.