Managing Safety Under Pressure

The pandemic has put more pressure on rail companies to get safety right. New health and safety risks need to be managed on top of existing issues. Our experts are helping industry with risk assessments and real-time decision-making using a range of tools and techniques. 

Managing safety


Britain’s railways enjoy a world-class safety record. This is only possible due to the targeted effort that industry puts in, based on data, analysis and research. Maintaining high levels of safety performance is difficult even without the additional challenge of Covid-19.

The railway has continued to run during the lockdown, transporting key workers and vital goods and supplies across the country. However, apart from providing a much-reduced timetable, other non-essential work has been shelved.

As the government starts to ease some of the restrictions, the number of train services will be increasing. Industry will need to work out how to restore a wider range of activities across all its operations while still managing the impact of the pandemic, preventing an increase in infections and protecting the NHS.

We are offering support to companies who need to do risk assessments to ensure they are doing everything that is reasonably practicable to protect the health and safety of passengers and workforce. This could mean evaluating new ways of working or managing the impact of social distancing on safety critical tasks. You can do this using our expert advice on good practice in risk assessment, drawing on our capabilities in risk assessment frameworks, tools and techniques, occupational health and occupational hygiene, human factors, mental wellbeing, H&S data, and standards.

We are also helping our members get to grips with their safety data and understand changes in trends that may have occurred during the lockdown to monitor risk as circumstances change. This will show that rail companies are putting safety at the centre of their management systems and can target intervention efficiently.

During the different stages of the pandemic rail staff will be experiencing new and novel scenarios. As a result, they may need to be more empowered to make decisions under pressure. Our research has led to good practice in helping encourage staff to have a clear, structured approach to real-time decision-making.

Please do take advantage of our resources.

If you are facing a particular challenge where our expertise could help please get in touch, it’s what we are here for.

Stepping Up FOCUS poster campaign

We have developed (with industry input) a set of posters aimed at train crew, which focus on six themes designed to raise awareness of the hazards / mitigations associated with the transition to a more frequent timetable and busier network. The campaign is called “Stepping Up FOCUS” and includes two key messages: FOCUS because and FOCUS on. We will be rolling out a different poster every two weeks to be displayed in crew areas and suggest replacing them with a new one to maintain momentum. The following posters and the roll out dates are listed below:

  1. Unusual signal aspects (30/05/20) Download A4 version, Download A3 version
  2. Manage distractions (05/06/20) Download A4 version, Download A3 version
  3. Change in service patterns (19/06/20) Download A4 version, Download A3 version
  4. Habitual cancelling of warning indications (03/07/20) Download A4 version, Download A3 version
  5. Checking train length (17/07/20) Download A4 version, Download A3 version
  6. Increased dwell time in stations (31/07/20) Download A4 version, Download A3 version

The posters are available to print in A4 and A3 PDF format and have a section at the bottom to customise with your own company branding. These can be distributed and displayed in staff areas.


Confidential Reporting with CIRAS
SMIS data entry guidance
Reporting Coronavirus Cases in SMIS When and How
Risk Assessment Support
Risk Assessment Advisory Service
Deviating from standards
Standards: Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic on Time-Limited Deviations
supporting decisions
Supporting Decisions in a Time of Uncertainty
Taking Safe Decisions
Briefing Note RISAS Certification
Briefing Note - Covid-19 Pandemic Temporary Measures for RISAS Certification
Using RISAS During the Pandemic
decision making
Video: Decision Making and Covid-19
Unusual signal aspects - A3 version
Unusual signal aspects - A4 version
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