Pretoria – Days after hundreds of commuters were injured in a train accident in Soweto, authorities are introducing new laws which they say will improve rail safety.
The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) on Friday published a national standard on human factors management, which it said was developed primarily to provide railway operators with the minimum requirements to manage human factors.
The standard will be mandatory for all railway operators in South Africa.
“As defined in the National Railway Safety Regulator Act, human factors mean factors which include the perceptual, physical and mental capabilities of people and the interaction of individuals with their job and working environments, the influence of equipment and system design on human performance, and the organisational characteristics that influence safety-related behaviour at work,” a statement said.
SABS said the purpose of human factors management was to reduce occurrences attributable to human error by optimising human capital and by mitigating the risks associated with human factors in the workplace to acceptable levels.
The management of human factors was a “dynamic risk driven process and shall form an integral part of the operators safety management system,” it said.
The standard is applicable to all employees undertaking safety related work in the railway environment. Safety related work includes all functions and activities that have an impact on safe railway operations and includes safety critical work, which refers to all functions and activities related to the authorisation and control of the movement of rolling stock.
Further, the requirements covered in this standard have an overlap with other components such as recruitment, training, human resource issues, health and medical issues, as well an overlap with occupational health and safety.
Under the new standards, operators are also required to conduct hygiene surveys to determine the impact of these physical environmental factors on safe railway operations. These include noise surveys to ensure that safety critical communication is not compromised.
“Lighting surveys are also required to determine the level of lighting required to safely perform the required safety related tasks.
“Good lighting, whether natural or artificial, has an important role to play in promoting health and safety at work … good lighting assists both in the identification of hazards and reduces the likelihood of visual fatigue and discomfort, thus contributing to safe railway operations.” – BuaNews