Technical Reports

Human-Centered Incident Investigation Methods for the Railroad Industry: Conference Summary

  • 01
  • Jul
  • 2002
AUTHOR: Federal Railroad Administration
SUBJECT: Human Factors
KEYWORDS: Human factors, Incident investigation, Safety, Accident analysis
ABSTRACT: This report presents a summary of a one-day educational conference on human-centered incident investigation methods for the railroad industry. Fifty-seven participants from the railroads, rail labor, government, and consulting/academia attended the one-day conference, held in Chicago, IL. Mr. George Gavalla, Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Associated Administrator for Safety, provided the opening remarks. Speakers included representatives from the FRA, railroads, labor, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Two panel discussions addressed how to create a more collaborative incident investigation environment, and future challenges in incident investigation. Several key themes emerged from the conference: railroads are slow to adopt a human-centered approach to incident investigation, but recognize the importance of such an approach; different railroads are taking different approaches to the incorporation of human-centered approaches - some are bottom-up while others are top-down; and the next big challenge in incident investigation in the railroad industry is to study near-miss data, as well as the unsafe acts and conditions that lead to near-misses and more serious incidents. Conference participation and discussion suggest several opportunities for the FRA to continue its efforts to improve railroad safety. These include (1) improvements to FRA's website to incorporate incident prevention methods and "best practices" from the industry, (2) examination of near-miss data collection and analysis methods, and (3) sponsorship of a follow-up conference in 2-3 years to continue facilitating the sharing of "best practices" across the railroad industry.