Safe railways for Australia

Managing safety


Safety management is an ongoing process. It is an essential requirement of receiving and maintaining accreditation with ONRSR.

There are five parts to effective rail safety management:

  • identification of all the hazards and risks to safety
  • planning of actions to eliminate or reduce the risks
  • competent people to implement controls and defences
  • regular monitoring of both the risks and effectiveness of the controlling actions
  • identification and management of changes to the operational risk profile.

A central component of these requirements is a safety management system (SMS), in which a rail transport operator (RTO) documents safety risks, controls and methods for monitoring. An SMS is an RTO’s primary means for identifying hazards, recording the risks to safety identified within its operations and detailing how those risks are managed and monitored.

It is a legislative requirement of accreditation that RTOs have an appropriate SMS in place. RTOs are legally obliged to implement and then comply with their SMS (RSNL s101).

The level of detail included in an SMS will be determined by the complexity of the rail operations for which it has been designed.

Related documents

Safety responsibilities

The Rail Safety National Law has been developed with the principles of shared responsibility and accountability. All parties associated with the railway have responsibilities.

Safety management systems

A safety management system (SMS) is a rail transport operator’s primary means for identifying hazards, recording the risks to safety it has identified within its operations and detailing how those risks are managed and monitored.

Contractor management

Accredited rail transport operators have obligations to continue managing safety when engaging in contracts for construction, maintenance, repair or rail operations. Contractors also have safety obligations whether or not they are accredited.

Interface coordination

The purpose of the interface coordination provisions of the Rail Safety National Law 2012 is to ensure that rail transport operators and road managers identify risks to safety arising from rail or road crossings; determine measures to manage, so far as is reasonable practicable, those risks and seek to enter into interface agreements to manage the risks.

Last updated: 14 November 2017