The Office of Rail Safety (ORS) is the business unit within the WA Department of Transport responsible for administering rail safety in Western Australia.
About the Office of Rail Safety (ORS)
The Office of Rail Safety (ORS) is the business unit within the WA Department of Transport responsible for administering rail safety in Western Australia. The current legislative basis for its activities is the Rail Safety Act 2010 and Regulations 2011, which can be accessed through the State Law Publisher website - see under Links.
Rail Safety Act
The Rail Safety Act 2010
was given assent by Parliament on June 28 2010 and was proclaimed with the Rail Safety Regulations 2011 on 1 February 2011.
National rail safety reform
From 2013, as it is enacted by jurisdictions, the Rail Safety National Law will replace the existing rail safety laws. On 20 January 2013, a National Rail Safety Regulator was established. The National Regulator will become a single national regulator overseeing rail safety regulation in all States and Territories.
To participate in the national reform, Western Australia needs to pass rail safety mirror law through its Parliament. The current legislative program means that the mirror law will not pass in WA until after the National Regulator commenced operation.
Until WA proclaims its mirror rail safety national law, existing rail safety regulation requirements will remain in place for rail operators that operate within WA.
However, from 20 January 2013, rail operators that operate outside of WA and who previously had their Principal Regulator outside of WA will need to contact the National Regulator regarding regulatory requirements and procedures covering their railway operations outside of WA.
For more information regarding the national rail safety reform, visit the National Rail Safety Regulator website.
National Rail Safety Investigator
The rail safety incident reporting procedures for rail operations within WA will not change even though the rail safety national law commenced in January 2013.
Category A occurrences will still need to be immediately reported to the WA Office of Rail Safety and notification of occurrences in WA will need to continue in the same manner by completing the Notification of Occurrence form.
For more information regarding incident reporting procedures, visit the Notifiable Occurrence Reporting section.
From 20 January 2013, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) will be the National Safety Investigator for Rail. The ATSB will undertake ‘no blame’ investigations of serious rail safety incidents.
For more information regarding the national rail safety investigatory reform, visit the Australian Transport Safety Bureau website.
Principles of Rail Safety
The following principles, developed by the National Transport Commission to support uniform rail safety legislation in Australia and approved by the Australian Transport Council (ATC), underpin the role and activities of the Office of Rail Safety:
Principle of responsibility
Rail safety is the responsibility of Government, rail transport operators, rail safety workers and others involved in railway operations.
Principle of integrated risk
If approaches to managing risks associated with any particular railway have impacts on any other railway or the railway network of which the railway is part, the best practicable rail safety outcome should be sought.
Principle of enforcement
The purpose of enforcement of the Act and the regulations is:
- protecting safety;
- promoting improvement in rail safety;
- removing incentive for any unfair commercial advantage that might be derived from contravening the rail safety laws; and
- influencing the attitude and behaviour of persons whose actions may have adverse impacts on rail safety.
Principle of transparency and consistency
Regulatory decision-making processes should be timely, transparent and nationally consistent.
Principle of participation, consultation and involvement of all affected persons
Rail transport operators and the organisations representing them, Rail Safety Regulators, rail safety workers and the organisations representing them and others involved in railway operations should participate in, the development and implementation of measures to manage safety risks associated with railway operations.
Rail Safety objectives
Having regard to the importance of rail safety and regulatory efficiency, the legislation is based on the following objectives:
- to provide for improvement of the safe carrying out of rail operations;
- to provide for the management of risks associated with railway operations;
- to make special provision for the control of particular risks arising from railway operations;
- to promote public confidence in the safety of persons or freight by rail.
Although railways have been in existence for many years, the technology of railways is changing. As new ideas, equipment and operating methods are developed and adopted in WA (particularly in the heavy haul railways in the North West), the Office of Rail Safety has a responsibility to ensure that their associated risks are identified and managed by railways (Risk Management) and that all affected parties are involved and consulted. This is why Change Management is included in a railway safety management system.
To enable the public to have confidence in rail safety, it is essential that the Office of Rail Safety be, and be seen to be an independent regulator and free from any conflicts of interest. Independence is a key feature of the Office of Rail Safety.
Although it is part of the Department of Transport, the Office of Rail Safety is an independent regulator not directed by Government or the rail industry. The Office is self funding, controls its own finances in an account set up in accordance with Section 43 of the Act and generates its own revenue by the collection of fees from rail organisations.
The Office of Rail Safety team comprises:
- The Director Rail Safety who is the Rail Safety Regulator and has responsibility to administer the Rail Safety Act 2010.
- Managers, with extensive experience in compliance auditing and specialist expertise in rolling stock, signalling and communication systems, track and civil infrastructure rail operations and Human Factors. Each accredited railway organisation is assigned to a manager within the ORS team, to provide a point of contact, cultivate working relationships with the organisation and manage activities such as compliance audits and investigations.
- Rail Safety Officers, also with extensive railway experience and in compliance inspection and auditing.
- Administrative staff responsible for data analysis, office management and maintaining extensive databases on rail safety occurrences.