I want to be a rail safety investigator... how do I do it?

 
  Saskia Beginner

Hello everyone!
After being a science communicator/children's performer for the first bit of my career, I have now moved into safety. I'm just about to complete a grad cert in OHS and am working part time in the field within a education centre context.

I have already figured out that I love investigations and inspections and would prefer a more active job than one where you sit down all day doing policy etc. And I think transport investigation would be really interesting and enjoyable. Rail seems like a good industry to be a part of and I know that there's been a bit of a push toward hiring women. So that's the rationale.

I looked up the career progression and I see that it's a job you can only get after a bit of experience, plus how am I supposed to investigate a system I've never worked in. So, how do I crack into the rail industry? It seems like you already have to have a RIW card for most of the jobs I see posted around the place. So how to get started?

And what entry jobs would be best for getting to my ultimate goal?

Thanks for the help all Smile

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  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Perhaps best to look into the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and what they do.  Their HR pages might have some useful links/contacts etc to follow.  ATSB is the national accident/incedent investigator and will do most of the investigation work, though some is still done by state organisations.

A phonecall to ATSB mightn't hurt.  What I would do is read up some of the investigation reports on the ATSB website (particularly the rail ones) to get a feel for what it is you'd be looking at and how you'd have to think about it.  Theyre fascinating reads in their own right too.

I might leave it to others to go into detail but the skills you have will probably determine how you contribute to the team.  Skills in compliance audit would be good generalist skills.  Engineering skills would lend you to be specialist in an area related to those skills.  IT skills, human factors skills and others would all be needed.

Good luck - report back what you find!
  allan Chief Commissioner
  Lockspike Assistant Commissioner

Hello everyone!
After being a science communicator/children's performer for the first bit of my career, I have now moved into safety. I'm just about to complete a grad cert in OHS and am working part time in the field within a education centre context.

I have already figured out that I love investigations and inspections and would prefer a more active job than one where you sit down all day doing policy etc. And I think transport investigation would be really interesting and enjoyable. Rail seems like a good industry to be a part of and I know that there's been a bit of a push toward hiring women. So that's the rationale.

I looked up the career progression and I see that it's a job you can only get after a bit of experience, plus how am I supposed to investigate a system I've never worked in. So, how do I crack into the rail industry? It seems like you already have to have a RIW card for most of the jobs I see posted around the place. So how to get started?

And what entry jobs would be best for getting to my ultimate goal?

Thanks for the help all Smile
Saskia
Hi Saskia,

Experience in workplace safety is not a prerequisite for working in Rail Safety, they tend to be different pathways, but some organisations may have a role covering both.
Moving into the rail industry will mean a monumental shift for you, and you should rightly engage in at least several years practicable experience in rail safety before seeking an incident investigation role.

You can enter rail safety in several ways: in rail operations (managing rail traffic), locomotive crew, and worksite protection roles in infrastructure work.

The ultimate body for rail safety investigation is the ATSB (they have wide ranging investigative powers), so as has been suggested, a chat with them may be worthwhile.

Cheers
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Depending upon the nature of the investigation one needs, in my view:
  • Years of on the ground experience so that one can analyse reality and/or be in a position to advise specialists on any highly technical aspects of an investigation.
  • In other words there is a level of 'been there and done that' which will/should lead to a degree of empathy and understanding as distinct from someone with the rule book in one hand and the results of an incident in the other.
  • I suggest that you read some of the British RAIB Reports which in many cases highlight deficiencies/shortcomings in the Rules which should/would not exist if the Rules had been written more carefully. I think that you will find, in many cases, that despite the Rules being deficient that experience and common sense would have avoided many incidents.
  • Like so many aspects of life today there seems to be a tendency to try and cover every detail on paper and in so doing not only over complicate but also leave out every aspect of professional common sense.
  Saskia Beginner

Hey, there's been some really helpful advice so far - so thanks!

Part of my question got missed though, which was, how do I actually get into the rail industry in the first place?

I know I need experience in the rail industry before I try to become an investigator - but how and where do I start? Every job I've seen advertised for entry level requires me to have a RIW card, but to get one of those I first have to become employed. So how did everybody else get their first ever rail job?

I should add that I'm a 33 year old woman who has never had a trade job before, although I have done copious amounts of work with manual handling, logistics, driving and working safely with chemicals in the course of my communication job (driving around the country with cannisters of hydrogen and exploding balloons for little kids etc, planning tours, setting up exhibitions on sites etc).
But I can't even apply for a job as a labourer or something, as again, most jobs require you to have already had experience with labouring in construction at least. I guess part of what I'm asking is, is it too late for me to enter the rail industry? From some of the replies so far it sort of feels like I haven't really got a hope of getting in anyway because I would have had to have started out when I was a lot younger.

Thanks!
Saskia
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Perhaps a call to some of the rail companies then is what you need.  ARTC had a female targeted hiring program some time ago, for track maintainers IIR - perhaps give their HR a call.  Some of the other organisations have had similar.  Google some of these as well and check out what programs they've had and whether theyre recent enough to give a call to as well.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Perhaps a call to some of the rail companies then is what you need.  ARTC had a female targeted hiring program some time ago, for track maintainers IIR - perhaps give their HR a call.  Some of the other organisations have had similar.  Google some of these as well and check out what programs they've had and whether theyre recent enough to give a call to as well.
james.au
Might be your best hope.
  Lockspike Assistant Commissioner

Hey, there's been some really helpful advice so far - so thanks!

Part of my question got missed though, which was, how do I actually get into the rail industry in the first place?

I know I need experience in the rail industry before I try to become an investigator - but how and where do I start? Every job I've seen advertised for entry level requires me to have a RIW card, but to get one of those I first have to become employed. So how did everybody else get their first ever rail job?

I should add that I'm a 33 year old woman who has never had a trade job before, although I have done copious amounts of work with manual handling, logistics, driving and working safely with chemicals in the course of my communication job (driving around the country with cannisters of hydrogen and exploding balloons for little kids etc, planning tours, setting up exhibitions on sites etc).
But I can't even apply for a job as a labourer or something, as again, most jobs require you to have already had experience with labouring in construction at least. I guess part of what I'm asking is, is it too late for me to enter the rail industry? From some of the replies so far it sort of feels like I haven't really got a hope of getting in anyway because I would have had to have started out when I was a lot younger.

Thanks!
Saskia
Saskia
Saskia,
ARTC are currently advertising for Network Controllers (no experience necessary!) at Junee. If interested you had better get your skates on as applications close COB Mon 17/9.
Also, I have sent you a PM.

Cheers
  sthyer Deputy Commissioner

Hi Saskia

There is an alternative to ATSB. The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) is responsible management of the Rail Safety Acts in Australia. They do this by accrediting and auditing operating railways across the country. http://www.onrsr.com.au/about-onrsr/working-at-onrsr  They may be looking for differential skills to what ATSB may require.  

As of midnight, 30 June 2017, the ATSB became the single national rail safety investigator for all States and Territories in Australia. There are other state based investigators, http://www.otsi.nsw.gov.au/rail/investigations.html  does NSW, and their statement indicates they'll still investigate where ATSB decides not to. The Victorian equivalent, Office of Chief Investigator, seems to have gone pretty quiet on their website. Understanding who is who in the zoo is the first part of the challenge.

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