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Taking Safe Decisions

Taking Safe Decisions sets out the industry consensus view of how safety is taken into account when taking decisions. It describes the principles that companies apply to protect people’s safety, satisfy the law, respect the interests of stakeholders and meet commercial objectives.

Every organisation needs to understand and manage its risks, both on an ongoing basis and when it changes something. Risk management can be thought of as comprising three related activities, which map to questions about safety-related change:

  • Monitoring. Is my operation safe or might I need to make a change?
  • Analysing and selecting options. What (if anything) should I change and can it be done safely?
  • Making a change. How do I make sure the change is safe?

These activities and questions provide a unifying framework that runs through the document.

Taking Safe Decisions has been written primarily for decision takers working for transport operators and their suppliers. The current version is 2.0; it replaces version 1.0, which was published in 2008. The fundamental principles are largely unchanged but the text has been updated to reflect industry experience of applying the guidance and changes to legislation, particularly the coming into force of the Common Safety Methods.

The 'Making a change' section of the document is structured around the risk management process set out in the Common Safety Method on Risk Evaluation and Assessment. Further information on this regulation and links to practitioner-level Rail Industry Guidance Notes that provide advice on its application are available from the Management of Change page. Additional guidance on safety-related cost-benefit analysis is also available.
A set of worked examples has been developed that illustrate the practical application of the principles set out in Taking Safe Decisions.

The superseded 2008 version of Taking Safe Decisions External link and The route to Taking Safe Decisions External link, which describes in more detail the thinking and discussion that led to the development of the original version, are available on SPARK.


We plan to review Taking Safe Decisions and associated guidance in 2015 in the light of industry experience of using it and of applying the Common Safety Methods.

We would be grateful for your feedback. If you would like to provide comments or suggestions please email All comments will be taken into consideration in the review.

This document is hosted on SPARK


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