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Human and organisational factors,the current railway safety challenge in spain


Author/s: Pilar Calvo Holgado

For the first time, Human and Organisational Factors are the purpose of an appearance in the Parliament to analyse the Spanish Railway System. This is much more frequent in other countries such as the United Kingdom, particularly after important accidents like that of Ladbroke Grove. It is no coincidence questions arise regarding this issue after the recent accident in Santiago de Compostela.
The fact that different members of Parliament demand this point of view when talking about Railway Safety is significant and transcendental as it may mean a new starting point for the attention received and the boost deserved by Human and Organisational Factors, as these are responsible for at least 62% of railway accidents in Spain, there being a state commitment for the causes originating such accidents not to repeat themselves.
The contributions in this appearance can be particularly useful for the recently created Railway Safety State Agency, while also for the rest of the railway players which, in some way or another, define the railway safety policies in our country.
The treatment given to Human Factors up to this date, only centred on personnel selection processes and first line worker training, is clearly insufficient and does not follow the recommendations made by the actual European Railway Agency (ERA) and by other standards specifying the need to assess the risks influencing human actions throughout the entire railway life cycle. It is necessary to take into account human limits and capacities when designing, integrating, operating and regulating. Human errors are consequences not causes.
The absence of resources and investment regarding this issue is noticeable, in spite of its scientific/technological and innovation priority indicated by the Spanish Railways Technological Platform (PTFE).
The appearance concludes with a wide repertoire of recommendations and proposals to advance regarding this issue, such as the necessary path for a Just Culture ,in this way managing to overcome the delay of our country in the integration of Human and Organisational Factors in the national railway safety plans.

Keywords: Human and organizational factors, Human reliability, Human error, Ergonomics, People­Technology­Environment­Procedures interfaces, Error­tolerant systems, Culture, Risk reporting, Rail Safety State Agency, Angrois accident, Resilience.

Publication: Vía Libre Railway Research


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