Human Factors

HFWG - Human Factors Working Group

Chairman: Christian Neveu, SNCF

UIC spearheads a study on safety culture in the railway sector

On 19 January, UIC launched a study on safety culture in the railway sector. A number of railway companies and infrastructure managers were brought together during the kick-off meeting organised by the Human Factors working group, which is run under the UIC Safety Platform. The work will focus on current best practice in the area of safety culture, and aims to:

  • Identify and characterise the safety culture as practised within railway companies
  • Establish the best methods
  • Identify the tools enabling a safety culture to be effectively implemented in the railway sector as a whole
  • Learn from other areas of industry (nuclear, oil, chemical, air and maritime)

The eventual aim is for UIC and its members to propose a common project, enabling railway companies and infrastructure managers to empower not only those involved in the safety sector, but all staff in general to develop a common culture.


The HFWG strives to ensure better incorporation of Organisational and Human Factors into the safety systems of the railways undertakings espacially for SPF’s member railways.

Generally the group addresses questions such as:

  • How to incorporate insight from human and social sciences in the same way as are engineering sciences?
  • How to optimise the system in order to improve safety?
  • How to manage developments impacting an individual’s work?

The HFWG aims to raise awareness about these issues by producing:

  • Recommandations on key issues or issues generating debate.
  • Compendia of ideas and practices emanating from member railways or other companies.

The objective is not to publish an exhaustive set of documents for each topic examined.

The group is comprised of railway experts from: UK (RSSB), Spain (RENFE), Belgium (Infrabel), UK (Network Rail), France (SNCF), Switzerland (SBB-CFF), Germany (DBAG) and UIC.


  • Study about "Human and Organisational aspects of events analysis"
  • SMS Guidelines and Human Factors
  • Seminar on "Safety in the Railway system-The Human Factors" (18-19 May 2011)
  • Seminar on "Human Factors & Technological Innovations" (24 June 2009)
  • Workshop on "Fatigue : impact on alertness in railway operations" (9 December 2008)
  • List of points of concern regarding the implementation of the “Driver Licensing” Directive.
  • Closure and concluding seminar for the ‘Language’ study, publication of the “Handbook”.
  • Seminar on the “Driver environment”
  • Specifications for three projects:
    • non-intrusive driver vigilance monitoring devices,
    • human, organisational and social aspects of the impact of border crossing on safety,
    • preparation of a proposal for the 3rd European Call for projects on driver management of information and tool and document design.
  • Opinions on other projects carried out by other UIC bodies.

Projects for the immediate future

Subject areas being covered with other working groups or independently:

  • A new study has started on 19th January 2012 about "Safety culture in the railways"
  • A new study has started on 12th October 2011 about "Training and drilling of staff for highly disrupted situations (excluding accidents)"
  • Development of risk acceptance criteria suited for sub-systems with heavy human involvement (with SSMG),
  • Recommendations for reducing the risk of passing signals at danger,
  • Dissemination (workshop-seminars) of findings from previous studies (“Languages” and “HF and Interoperability”),
  • Recommendations for safety management at cross-border sections (HF aspects),
  • Recommendations for the compilation and use of safety databases based on their contribution to safety management (HF aspects)
  • Development of “human and social science” skills which are likely to be used for UIC projects,
  • Organisation of a seminar on “driver vigilance and fatigue – knowing and understanding what they are, protection against their consequences”.

Topics that must be covered given current ERA work:

  • accreditation of training centres,
  • management of driver mobility from one company to another,
  • language skills (continued),
  • professional skills assessment.

2009 Programme

Reminder of the three ongoing studies:

  • Contribution of psychology to railway safety
  • Local management checks
  • Implementation of the “Driver Licensing” Directive

which will draw to a close early 2009.

To be commenced in 2009 subject to approval by the Safety Platform (cf July 2009 meeting):

  • Automatic non-intrusive driver vigilance and alertness monitoring devices
  • Preparation of an application for the 3rd European Call for projects information management by the driver (IMD)
  • Management of the impact on safety by drivers crossing “borders”

The HFWG will continue contributing to the various groups in which UIC is involved, at the request of project leaders and subject to the availability of individual Group members.

Reserve projects

The “Human Factors” working group has a further eight topics in reserve, priority amongst which will be determined by the steering group according to its proposals (cf UIC Safety Platform, Work Programme 2009).


The aim of the work is to better guarantee the efficiency and safety of international rail transport.

UIC may also call upon the services of researchers to carry out more specialised research. In this case it is the Human Factors Group which drafts the specifications and steers the work.

Building a safe, interoperable railway - A Methodological Guide to integrating Human Factors

UIC Contact

Meryem Belhaj:

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Study on local management safety checks
July 2010

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Summary: The scope of the study covers all local measures put into place as part of Safety Management Systems and in order to comply with legal obligations. The checks studies are those carried out at the first level of management - usually team leaders.

The objectives are as follows:

  • Collect information about how railway company local management checks are organised and performed,
  • Create a body of “good practice” which can be shared,
  • Provide each member network with a document recapitulating the various types of local management checks used in a selection of companies. This will highlight those systems where such checks have reached a certain level of maturity, the differences which exist as well as the strengths and difficulties involved.
    The document will also offer various options for possible progress or advice about implementation.
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Study on the contribution of psychology to railway operation safety
July 2010

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Summary: The objectives were as follows:
  • Collect and disseminate to networks that are members of the Safety Platform (SPF) information about practices and use of psychology for railway safety purposes.
  • Produce a set of recommendations.

The study covers:

  • recruitment,
  • ongoing aptitude evaluation,
  • re-evaluation of professional skills in case of doubt – in particular after accidents,
  • psychological support,
  • project management (technical, organisational, related to the profession),
  • training,
  • feedback on experience
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Management of distressing events and prevention of post-traumatic stress
December 2011

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To draft a handbook comprising recommendations and best practices for railway undertakings and infrastructure managers on the basis of a strategy for managing potentially traumatic events and preventing post-traumatic stress.

Presentation of the handbook

The handbook is in two parts:

  • practical information sheets,
  • a more theoretical part.

The management of potentially traumatic
events is centred around five key phases:

  • risk assessment,
  • preparation and prevention,
  • intervention,
  • postvention and follow-up,
  • reporting.

The practical information sheets are intended for members of staff in the field, managers, support staff and executives. They provide in- formation and awareness-raising and training measures for before, during and after poten- tially traumatic events.

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Organisational and human aspects of safety at border crossings
September 2012

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Summary: In crossing technical, regulatory, linguistic, cultural, technological, national and other types of border, members of staff have to have a grasp of several different environments and manage transitions between them. These situations are likely to cause errors, such as rules incorrectly applied, immediate responses unsuited to the situation or poor management of the transition from one environment to another.

It is therefore important to develop strategies and systems to gain greater control over these risks. Analysis of human behaviour brought about by this type of situation makes it easier to understand the human and organisational phenomena involved.

Best practices have been recorded and recommendations formulated for railway undertakings and infrastructure managers (organisation of work, staff training, assistance tools, etc.) in order to improve their control over the effects of crossing borders on staff members’ behaviour.

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Analysis of the human, organisational and social dimensions of an incident
May 2012

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In all these fields (choosing the design of technological devices, choosing organization principles, choosing and training staff, monitoring the compliance of technological devices, maintaining technological devices, managing staff skills, managing documentation, organisation promotion, etc.) decisions and actions are to be appropriate, knowing and understanding the people, the technology, the organization and the relations between the various elements of the system.

This is what is covered under Experience Feedback Human, Organizational and Social Factors. Developing this feedback depends on developing various complementary activities. This guide concerns one of these:

The analysis of the Human, Organizational and Social Dimensions of an incident.

This guide contains 10 files:

  • Incident analyses within experience feedback,
  • Setting up and development,
  • Causes,
  • Scheduling,
  • Factors in the search for causes,
  • The process of in-depth analysis of rail incidents,
  • The objectives of in-depth analysis of rail incidents,
  • Methods and tools,
  • The analysis team,
  • Training

Focus on Human Factors

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