Overall mainline health and safety risk management maturity

Overview: overall, our assessment of duty holders' safety management maturity, based on our enforcement and the other indicators we monitor showed that the industry's health and safety performance was fairly consistent, but static and broadly similar to 2013-14. Train accident risk, as modelled by the mainline precursor indicator model (PIM), showed a reduction in risk and consistent health and safety risk management. Importantly there is still scope for improvement.

We found a few examples of excellence and best practice such as freight operators edging towards level 5 'excellence' on one or two discrete RM3 areas, as well as substandard risk management exceptions. There is a cross-industry weakness in managing growth and change, particularly around station safety. Overall levels of harm to passengers and the public at stations increased 2%, but reduced by 2% when normalised by the 4% increase in mainline passenger journeys. Duty holders must use opportunities to secure safety by design enhancements when renewing or building new infrastructure, stations, rolling stock and equipment. 

Evidence: our inspections and interventions, our assessment of duty holders' health and safety risk management maturity using RM3 pdf icon PDF, 413 Kb found limited improvements in duty holders' overall scores compared to 2013-14, but there was progress in specific areas. Our RM3 assessments produced a range of scores, around level 2 'managed' and level 3 'standardised', but with a few consistently showing at level 4 'predictable'. 

We found improvements to level crossings risk management, despite an increase in actual harm to crossing users and improvements to the asset stewardship of earthwork, bridges, tunnels and viaducts. There was an overall 2% reduction in harm to the public from trespass and a 21% reduction in platform-train interface (PTI) harm to passengers, or a 24% risk decline when normalised by the increase in passenger journeys.

However, we found insufficiently effective arrangements to manage basic worker construction health and safety risks, such as working with electricity and at height as well as delays to planned safety enhancements. The mainline SPAD risk trend remained stable but SPAD numbers increased. There is plenty of scope to further improve earthworks, bridges, tunnels and viaducts; and to improve the management of passengers at stations, service growth and change management.

More broadly, the industry's pace of change is not fast enough. We welcome Network Rail's recognition of the potential risk from 'change initiative overload'. It is important that change is targeted, managed, supported, realistic and resourced to avoid unintended consequences.

Our specific targets for 2015-16 and beyond: track geometry; managing growth and change safely, including station safety, driver management and the high SPAD numbers; workforce safety; and occupational health.