RSSB today handed the report of its independent review to Network Rail Chairman – Rick Haythornthwaite. The report details the unintended consequences of management actions designed to improve safety and to increase the efficiency of contracting.
The report confirms that significant under-reporting has taken place – and estimates that between 500 – 600 RIDDOR reportable accidents were not reported between 2005 and 2010. Some of the under-reporting relates to misinterpretation of the RIDDOR requirements, but the majority is explained by staff and contractors choosing not to report accident events. This was caused by both real and perceived pressure, and in some cases fear, felt by Network Rail staff and contractors if they reported accidents. The reason this was not identified by Network Rail itself was because it believed that the significant efforts it was making to improve safety, including investment in protective clothing, quantified targets and league tables, were driving the numbers of accidents down. Now that Network Rail has changed its internal guidance on reporting, the level of RIDDOR reporting has returned to more expected levels.
RSSB was asked to consider whether the presence of monetary bonuses was a driver to the under-reporting of injuries. The review found no evidence of a link between under-reporting and Directors‟ or senior managers‟ bonuses.
Anson Jack, RSSB’s director of policy, research and risk, who directed the review said „This review highlights the unintended consequences of management initiatives intended to improve safety. It is the combination of Network Rail‟s internal and contracting culture together with quantitative targets, rather than just the targets themselves which created the under-reporting issue.‟
“Network Rail has already taken a number of actions to address the under reporting and we have recommended it considers further steps to improve the working relationship between all levels of its staff and between the company and its contractors with a view to working towards a more open and “just” safety and reporting culture.‟
Responding to the review findings Rick Haythornthwaite, Chairman of Network Rail said „I’m grateful to RSSB for its work and to the Office of Rail Regulation and Unite for bringing this issue to our attention. While we can take some comfort from the report‟s clear conclusion that there was no link between under-reporting and executive bonuses, Network Rail needs to heed the lessons in this report if it is to achieve its ambition of a world class safety culture.‟