Spoken Safety Critical Communications

Excellent spoken safety critical communications (SSCC) are a crucial factor in helping deliver a safe operational railway. All rail staff who have to communicate verbally during their operational duties have a part to play. In a recent sample of GB rail incidents, safety critical communication (SCC) was identified as a contributory factor in nearly 17% of cases [1]. However, this figure rises to 90% depending on the operational context [2].

SSCC RIS updated to reflect research findings

As part of RSSB’s five-year review of the Rail Industry Standard (RIS) on SSCC (RIS-8046-TOM), we have updated requirements and incorporated key points from the Communications Manual (research project T1078) which describes good practice in SCC on the railways. The changes to the RIS (September 2019) include revisions to SSCC monitoring that align them with the Communications Manual, as well as a new appendix that contains guiding principles for effective SSCC.

Improved accessibility of SSCC materials

At the same time, we used findings from a recent survey to improve the accessibility and availability of our SSCC training materials and promote them amongst members to help improve SSCC performance. The result is a more comprehensive set of resources for safety critical communications that we’ve brought together and published in one place for the first time. 

Flexible training modules 

The materials are designed to cover a range of scenarios for different levels of experience. The six modules can either be integrated into existing training resources or used as standalone modules, depending on members’ requirements. 

We’ve also created a contents summary to help members navigate the materials, and to support your decision to integrate them into existing training programmes and safety briefs.

Standardised training across industry

These training materials will enable railway undertakings, infrastructure managers and infrastructure maintenance companies to upskill all frontline staff. This includes drivers, signallers and depot workers. Our standardised training can help improve spoken communications across the rail industry to reduce the potential of misunderstanding from communication failures. 


[1] Human Factors SPAD Analysis - Analysis of SPAD investigation reports from 2016/2017 (research project T1128).
[2] Murphy, P. (2003) Analyses of communication failures in railway engineering works. 

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