The Covid-19 pandemic has put extra pressure on train companies, who have needed to adapt to continue to provide rail services under ever-changing levels of restrictions and lockdowns.

If you are a rail company or duty holder, you will need to address health and safety risks carefully, as lockdowns ease and levels of restriction change.

Industry needs to be able to operate while still managing the impact of the pandemic, preventing an increase in infections and protecting the NHS.

To ensure the railway is working together consistently, the rail regulator, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) agreed Rail Industry Principles through close collaboration with rail companies, the Covid-19 Joint Executive Oversight Team (JEOT) and trades unions. The principles provide the context for meeting legal obligations for health and safety in the context of the pandemic.

Rail companies will need to demonstrate how they are meeting these legal obligations. Just like any other form of safety management, you will need to monitor data, assess risk and target interventions appropriately.

The pandemic is still new territory, even now. Your employees and customers will be experiencing novel situations and scenarios which they have not witnessed before. There will be uncertainties and constraints that were not anticipated when procedures were originally designed.

You will need to be confident to have assessed the risks adequately, ensuring legal compliance, consistency with the Rail Industry Principles, and taking a precautionary but proportionate approach. Getting safety right will ensure the smooth running of the railway, instilling confidence, allaying concerns—and that’s where we can help.

You can tap into independent support with our Risk Assessment Support Service.

We can:

  • help you understand and apply the Covid-19 Rail Industry Principles in local risk assessments
  • review your risk assessments and provide expert advice
  • attend risk assessment workshops to collect and share good practice
  • offer opportunities to benchmark your work with good practice from other railways in GB, UK, and overseas

Safety leaders in our member companies and the ORR have expressed support for this service as the benefits will include receiving impartial advice from our independent experts which will provide consistency across the industry. Rail companies are keen to gain extra confidence and assurance that their approach and level of effort is accurate. They are determined to cover all necessary ground, avoid gold-plating and share their confidence with others.

In 2020, we supported over 30 requests from members for support in their risk assessments so the railway could adapt to reintroduce services, increase operations while still managing the risk of the virus.

Our multidisciplinary team is ready to help you, providing expertise in risk assessment, compliance, safety management, human factors, health and wellbeing, and safety decision making. They are supported by our wealth of knowledge and experience in railway engineering and operations and have access to a wider international community.

This service is only available to RSSB members. To access this service, please contact us using the Customer Self-Service Portal, and select the “Covid-19 Support” case category.