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Developing your safety case and safety system

All licence holders are required to have a safety system with an overarching safety case approved by the Transport Agency (WorkSafe NZ is also consulted before a safety case is approved).

What is a safety case?

A rail safety case provides an overview of your organisation’s approach to safety and demonstrates how your management systems work together to achieve your safety commitments.

Its development gets you, as a (prospective) rail participant, to look carefully at your organisation and think about how you will keep people safe, rather than just focusing on your equipment or procedures. It does this because often the most serious accidents come about not just from one thing going wrong, but from a build-up of failures across the organisation.

Your safety case must cover all of your rail activities and those of any rail participants for which you are responsible for (will operate under your licence). It should show how your organisation will be structured to manage safety and risk. It’s important to ensure all interoperability arrangements with other rail participants are also covered so there are no gaps in responsibility or accountability with regards to safety.

A key principle of the safety regime is that the organisation which creates the risk carries the responsibility for managing it.

Note: Comprehensive guidance for how to develop a safety case is provided on the Rail safety cases page and you will also find our Risk management guidance helpful.

What is a safety system?

A safety system is what underpins the operations of a licence holder, with the key idea behind any such system being ‘say what you do, do what you say’. Such systems define the standards and procedures consistent with accepted railway operating practices for the activities being undertaken.

An effective safety system:

  • ensures operational consistency
  • ensures risks are managed
  • measures performance, and
  • seeks continuous improvement as appropriate.

Internal audits by the licence holder and safety assessments by the Transport Agency are carried out to ensure ongoing compliance with the safety system.

Note: For more information see the guidance on our Governance and Safety assessments pages.

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