Safe railways for Australia

Safety Message: ONRSR Investigation Findings: Worksite Protection Incidents


A number of worksite protection incidents have occurred over the past 12 months involving Protection Officers placing protection (flags and Rail Traffic Signals) on the wrong track during Track Occupancy Authorities (TOA) and Local Possession Authorities (LPA). These incidents have occurred in both metropolitan and regional areas and have resulted in drivers having to bring their trains to an emergency stop.

In addition to the negative impact on drivers, these incidents indicate that a vital layer of a safe working system has been breached potentially leaving workers unprotected.

In some cases these incidents have involved experienced Protection Officers and they highlight the importance of planning TOA/LPA and ensuring there is a full understanding of the worksite and the track layout. In some cases, Protection Officers have become confused about their location and what is in front of them, indicating a need to ensure that the information on the Worksite Protection Plan reflects what is in front of the Protection Officer when they are looking at the site.

The following are some examples of what ONRSR investigations into these recent incidents have found:

  • When planning the time needed for the protection to be in place, the time required to place the flags and Rail Traffic Signals was not taken into account leading to a rushed process.
  • When communicating with Protection Officers over the phone to confirm worksite protection details (safety critical communications), the signaller has become distracted by other phone calls and distractions around them and this has led to incorrect protection being implemented and worksites being left unprotected.
  • Protection Officers have been unable to differentiate between the Up and Down tracks leading to incorrect placement of protection.

ONRSR is reminding all operators of the importance of careful planning when carrying out TOA/LPA activities. Specifically operators should ensure Worksite Protection Plans match what Protection Officers are seeing at the site. It is also vitally important that clear communication exists between Protection Officers and signallers to allow for confirmation of locations and the provision of visual clues to assist.

For further information email contact@onrsr.com.au

This advice is effective immediately

Email: contact@onrsr.com.au