Organised by the European Rail Agency (ERA) in collaboration with the European Commission, the European Rail Safety Summit took place in Dubrovnik from 10 - 12 April and was attended by over 150 people drawn from a cross-section of the European rail industry: RUs, IMs, NSAs, NIBs, lobby groups, manufacturers - and UIC.
The summit focused on safety culture and on the signature of the “European Railway Safety Culture Declaration” by a number of high-ranking personalities.
The declaration is a commitment by rail-sector leaders in favour of the fundamental principles of a positive safety culture:
- Support and cooperation
- Questioning attitude
- Mutual respect
- Leadership in safety
- Efficiency and reliability
- Continual improvement of safety
- Positive safety culture
It is not a legally or contractually binding document but a personal undertaking by each leader to develop a positive safety culture in their respective organisations. As of 11 April 2018, 34 organisations had already signed the declaration.
In his introductory speech, ERA Executive Director Josef Doppelbauer reiterated that safety culture was the essence of the railways, since the two were what brought people together. Mr Doppelbauer added that there was a need for leadership and safety management to be developed jointly in order to foster a positive safety culture.
In her video message, European Transport Commissioner Violetta Bulc underscored the “major progress represented by integrating human and organisational factors”, and indeed it is these Human and Organisational Factors principles that are applied in the pledge. Ms Bulc also warned those present to leave no one behind in the rail sector’s advance towards a positive safety culture.
UIC Director-General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux also sent a video message containing an especially motivating message whereby he reiterated the importance of safety for UIC and mentioned various pieces of work on safety culture done by the UIC Safety Platform’s Human Factors Working Group. Mr Loubinoux also stressed the conceptual importance of rule-based safety and managed safety, since “this alliance of two types of safety - rule-based and managed - will inevitably strengthen safety leadership, communication, and just culture.”
You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/KY_c5Q4-DyQ
Dr René Amalberti, who is an author as well as being Director of France’s Foundation for an Industrial Safety Culture (Foncsi), then brilliantly explained the principle of variability in an individual’s execution of tasks. He built on this by talking about the implications of this variability in managing an organisation.
Participants were particularly moved by the story of Mrs Tina Hughes, who described her journey to the heart of safety culture as a mother who lost her child in a level crossing accident. Tina has worked with Network Rail to improve the way that the company manages risks at level crossings and has spoken many times about her experience to audiences in Network Rail and the wider rail industry to encourage people to think differently about risks and safety at level crossings. (http://www.level-crossings.com/main-menu/about-us.html)
The day continued with a speech by Keir Fitch, Head of Unit on Rail Safety and Interoperability at DG MOVE, in which he mentioned new technologies and safety culture in connection with just culture as key parts of rail-sector development. This was followed by a number of memorable presentations on safety culture in the petrochemicals and nuclear industries.
SNCF Safety Director and UIC Safety Platform Chairman Frédéric Delorme presented the various aspects of safety culture as applied at SNCF.
On the final day, Eurocontrol Head of Safety Unit Tony Licu opened proceedings by sharing his vision of a positive safety culture with participants.
The day continued with work in mini-groups and discussions of various topics in connection with positive safety culture. As well as addressing specific issues between sector partners, the mini-group discussions were an opportunity to share details of a root-cause investigation method, for example.
The summit closed by outlining a unanimously-shared ambition: “towards a positive safety culture”.