Human Factors

HFWG - Human Factors Working Group

Chairperson: Bernard Penners, INFRABEL
Vice-chairperson: Ann Mills, RSSB
Members: RSSB, SNCF, Infrabel, Japan Rail Group, Renfe, Trenitalia, FTA, ProRail, DB, Irishrail, INFRABEL, ÖBB

Human Factors Working Group:

  • Supports UIC members in integrating Organisational and Human Factors in their safety systems as appropriate tools for enhancing efficiency, safety and reliability
  • Benchmarks and shares experience to improve the common knowledge and the current best practices
  • Identifies the possible problems and assesses the risks through in-depth analysis of the Safety, Organisational and Human Factors
  • Makes recommendations for UIC members and presents them in widely targeted publications
  • Provides with strong arguments from UIC members with regard to the intrinsic relationship between Human Factors and Safety matters

In addition, specific issues have been tackled by three temporary multidisciplinary Task Forces under the supervision of the UIC Safety Platform:

“Improving health and safety when working with contractors on the railway”

The guidance prepared under the supervision of the UIC Occupational Health and Safety Group (OHSG) will assist in improving the health and safety practice of leaders, managers, and health and safety practitioners working in procurement, project management, and supply chain management.

It is intended to be:

  • A useful tool to assist companies in complying with relevant health and safety legislation
    • Applicable to contractual relationships within the rail industry
    • Flexible enough to be applied to internal as well as external contractors
  • Equally applicable to subcontractors (via main contractors)
  • Based on general principles rather than focusing on specific types of contracts
  • A signpost document for organisations including where to find good practices.

“Signals Passed At Danger” (SPADs)

The issue is addressed from a “human factors” point of view.
Four specific topics are presented:

  • Processes of SPAD investigation: common aspects, best practices (based on a questionnaire sent to Safety Platform Members)
  • Role of the infrastructure managers
  • New methods of training and management implemented by the railway undertakings
  • What lessons can be learned from non-events (SPADs that didn’t occur)?

“Safety management and safety culture”

The purpose of the work is to identify practical factors and good practice in implementing the safety management system which contributes to a healthy safety culture. The report proposes:

  • A detailed description of a model of strong safety culture comprising 9 points, ranging from staff commitment and involvement in issues of safety to change management
  • For each stage of management, recommendations aiming to make all those involved in safety management a standard bearer for reinforcing a culture of safety
  • Indicators to measure the progress achieved and the weaknesses to be remedied
Towards a positive railway safety culture
September 2019

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In 2012, the UIC Safety Platform held three one-day conferences on the theme of safety culture. These conferences brought together railway operators and representatives of other industries (energy, healthcare, chemicals, aviation) and gave rise to two major questions:
  • What are the links and interactions between safety management and safety culture?
  • How can we measure safety culture?

These two questions were explored at greater length by the UIC Human Factors Working Group and a dedicated “Safety Culture” task force.

This report presents the conclusions of their work.

Whereas the concept of safety management is nowadays fairly well defined in a number of legal texts, the same cannot be said of the concept of safety culture.

However, if a company wishes to improve and measure its safety culture, it needs to define its goals and have at its disposal a set of relevant metrics against which to measure its performance.

UIC Contact

Meryem Belhaj-Clot:

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.
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
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.

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.

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
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