Your safety case makes a commitment about your organisation’s safety by turning ‘being safe’ into something more tangible. It does this by focusing on your safety activities and showing that your commitment to safety:

  • is tuned to your organisation
  • is led by management
  • has the buy-in of all team members, and
  • drives your organisation to constantly do better.

Safety policy, principles and goals  [s30(1)(b)]

Your organisation’s safety policy is the foundation of your safety culture. It describes what ‘being safe’ means to your organisation. Our expectation of safety is set by Section 7 of the Railways Act 2005(external link) and your safety policy should describe this in your own words, in a way that is relevant to your organisation.

To help ensure it can be applied regardless of what is happening, you might find it useful to break it down beyond a single statement. For instance:

  • try to explain your policy as a set of principles everyone can sign up to (essentially some rules that you and your team will follow that are appropriate for all roles)
  • think about everyone that will be affected by your rail activities and how you will know they are safe, and
  • identify key safety goals that will collectively achieve the safety policy.

You should include your safety principles and goals in your safety case.

The principles set rules that you and your team will act by. They are clear, appropriate to all of the team no matter their tasks, and work together to build safe behaviours.

The goals turn your safety policy into a set of accomplishments that the organisation can work towards. In Section 30 of the Railways Act they are referred to as ‘objectives’.

The goals you choose need to fully cover what you need to achieve to keep safe, so it pays to use similar goals rather than mix and match. For instance your goals could be based on:

  • what you do to keep people and property safe
  • what your outcomes are (eg minimal incidents, high awareness), and
  • what could go wrong (eg the risks you face when performing your rail activities).

Depending on your approach, you might need to break these goals down a bit more before you can start setting achievable targets.

Governance  [s30(1)(c)]

Your safety case needs to show that your organisation’s leadership owns the document and the safety policy, principles and goals it embodies. It must also show that your governance team have the right accountability, skills and tools to hold the organisation to the safety case.

The governance team and senior leadership should be involved with the safety case, ensuring:

  • they understand their role in ensuring the organisation’s safety commitment is met
  • those leading have the right management skills to oversee a railway activity, and
  • there are clear accountabilities and organisational arrangements to support good governance, promote safety and manage risks.

Monitoring performance  [s30(1)(h)]

Having reliable performance measures that cover all of your safety goals are key to achieving them. Your safety case should describe your key performance measures and demonstrate you have a strong approach to monitoring them.

To illustrate how you’re monitoring your organisation’s safety performance, ensure:

  • each performance measure has a role specifically accountable for meeting it
  • you can provide evidence that you know what is going well, what isn’t working, and what could be going even better
  • you show how you will communicate the findings across the organisation and to us, and
  • you show how your organisation reacts when your performance measures aren’t being met.

Continuous improvement  [s30(1)(l)]

Your safety case needs to demonstrate that your organisation is one that is continually and effectively taking opportunities to improve its safety. A good way to do this is to show how your systems work together to provide you with information you can act on, for instance:

  • how you monitor and review your organisation’s performance so you know where to improve and when you can celebrate success
  • how you review your safety case and safety system to ensure the various parts continue to be the most appropriate
  • how your culture encourages people to share ideas
  • how you manage change and understand what else might be affected by an improvement (ie  fixing one problem may raise new problems), and
  • your project management process for ideas and how they are implemented.

Consultation and communication  [s30(1)(m)]

It’s important that your safety case shows you understand how and why effective conversations, both internally and externally, help to achieve your safety activities.

Representatives of rail personnel are a key part of this as they provide another way for you to get your message out, and they are valuable in helping you get informed and honest feedback from staff, volunteers and members who might not speak up otherwise.

When describing what you expect to achieve here, think about how your organisation:

  • gets the best value from your communications
  • talks with the right people to work out how to stay safe
  • thinks about those peoples’ situation rather than just what you need from them, and
  • talks to them the right way to get informed and honest answers.

Documents that may help you develop this section

  • Your safety policy
  • Your current performance measures and reporting plan
  • Submissions from and agreements with representative organisations, such as unions