Road-rail fatality report offers new safety pointer

ATSB investigation leads to the sort of recommendations ATA sees as valuable

Road-rail fatality report offers new safety pointer
An image from the report cover

Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has released another example of the sort of fatal accident report that the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) believes would be valuable for industry safety.

Like the Toll Shipping report earlier this month, the findings of an investigation to a collision between two Transfield Services Australia road-rail vehicles offer a glimpse into how the approach might work in road transport due to the sort of vehicle involved.

The May 2012 accident, between Forrest and Haig in Western Australia, involved a flat-bed truck that back-ended a ute within a convoy of three vehicles, killing a worker.

ATSB determined that the flatbed truck could not be stopped in time to avoid the collision because the brakes that were originally fitted to its front rail guidance equipment had been removed, and the vehicle’s rear wheel brakes were in a poor state of repair.

The investigation also identified that the rail workers had developed localised practices that were not compliant with Transfield’s operational procedures.

The ATSB identified systemic issues associated with Transfield’s road-rail vehicle maintenance regime, rail safety worker training, management oversight and drug and alcohol policy and procedures.

It also highlighted the absence of a national standard for road-rail vehicles that "addresses the fitment, modification and maintenance of road-rail equipment and the consequent risk that unsuitable modifications may adversely affect the safe operation of a road-rail vehicle", the report says.

Since the incident, Transfield has reviewed and updated its road-rail vehicle maintenance regime.

The company has also taken action to improve its management oversight of rail safety workers, its training processes for maintenance and operational staff and its drug and alcohol policies and procedures.

"The Rail Industry Safety Standards Board (RISSB) is facilitating the development of Australian Standard, AS 7502, Road Rail Vehicles," the report states.

"The standard will cover the basic requirements for road-rail vehicles across their life cycle, including design, construction, testing and certification, operation, maintenance, modification and disposal."

The full report can be found here.

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