Technical Reports

The Impact of Participatory Safety Rules Revision on Incident Rates, Liability Claims, and Safety Culture in the U.S. Railroad Industry

  • 01
  • Jul
  • 2007
AUTHOR: Ranney, J., and Nelson, C.
OFFICE: RPD
REPORT NUMBER: DOT/FRA/ORD-07/14
SUBJECT: Human Factors, Safety Regulatory Analysis
KEYWORDS: Railroad safety culture, safety rules revision, safety rules consolidation, compliance, Federal Employer’s Liability Act, FELA, incident rates, liability claims, lessons learned
ABSTRACT: The Federal Railroad Administration Human Factors Research and Development Program sponsored a lessons learned study to examine the impact of safety rules revision on safety culture, incident rates, and liability claims in the railroad industry. Safety rules revision identifies key rules that are universally enforceable and eliminates unnecessary and conflicting rules. The process also seeks to promote improvements in safety culture through labor-management collaboration by including a shift in primary responsibility for rules creation from management to front-line workers. In this study, the evaluation team reviewed relevant literature, interviewed key participants (management and labor) from transportation carriers that had undertaken safety rules revision, and analyzed relevant incident and injury data. Although outcome data were statistically inconclusive, a number of other indicators in this study suggested a positive benefit on carriers that used the process. Interviewees reported more enforceable safety rules, increased compliance, and overall improvements in several aspects of safety culture, such as labor-management relations. Moreover, some carriers reported significant reductions in the number of claims related to the Federal Employer’s Liability Act and the cost per claim. This report examines other potential benefits, challenges, and successful implementation strategies, as well as future directions and activities.
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