Changes to RSW definitions

This is an information update to T&H operators on the status of proposed changes to Rail Safety National Law (RSNL) definitions of Rail Safety Workers (RSWs)

On Friday last week, the RSNL Maintenance Group met and considered an industry-developed proposal to narrow the definition of Rail Safety Work (RSW).

At this meeting, the ARA tabled the attached proposal which was developed with the industry reps on the RSNL Maintenance Group (Lindsay Holt, Laing O’Rourke; Danny Harnedy, Aurizon; Karlie Southwood, GoldLinq; Frank Hussey, ATHRA; Todd Bentley, MTM; John Gibbon, BHP and Sandra Wilson-Ryke, now David Bainbridge, ARTC).

2. Rail Industry Rail Safety Work Definition Amendment Proposal

1. Rail Industry Proposal Paper – definition of rail safety work (002)

Essentially,  agreement was sought on the following principles, that the definition of RSW should:

  • be based on the task or function being undertaken,
  • focus only on those who have a direct impact on rail safety operations, and
  • not be based on location.

To implement the above principles, a number of options were proposed:

  1. Removing the link to location as a determinant of RSW (through Clause 8 1 f of the RSNL)
  2. Reinforcing the need for Rail Safety Workers to have a direct impact on the safety of rail operations
  3. The identification of tasks/functions not classified as RSW
  4. Supporting any changes with guidance materials and industry education
  5. Case-by-case exemptions from ONRSR

I’m pleased to advise that the NTC, ONRSR, State, Territory and Commonwealth Governments all agreed change is required and were supportive of exploring the ARA and industry proposed solutions.

For T&H operators in particular, the changes proposed were structured to try and address the often intermittent/casual participation of voluntary workers undertaking roles such as workshop maintenance and track maintenance

In terms of next steps, the NTC will develop a consultation paper that explores the options tabled (considering the pros/cons of each, potential legislative impacts etc) as well as a few other concepts agreed at the meeting. The NTC has proposed releasing its discussion paper in February 2019 (at the earliest) for public consultation.