Having increased its membership by 60% in the last year, the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB) is clearly doing something right.

With its membership including the major Pilbara mining companies involved in heavy haulage of valuable ore across Australia, RISSB is playing a critical role in working with the industry to ensure it meets the necessary regulatory standards.

The Australian Mining Review recently caught up with RISSB Chair and industry veteran, David George, to discuss the organisation’s collaborative role with the Australian Heavy Haulage rail sector and the mining companies that are part of it.

“RISSB is industry’s partner in co-regulation. We are helping manage safety and play an active role in shaping the regulatory environment,” David said.

“In reality, we work hand-in-hand with industry. We create the documents and tools, provide training, offer the technical advice, organise industry forums and conferences, and help industry manage safety and meet its obligations within the co-regulatory framework.

“We are the only Standards Development Organisation accredited by Standards Australia to produce Australian Standards for the railway. We have over 220 publications which includes Standards, Codes of Practice, Guidelines and Rules.”

David says that RISSB recognises the importance of Australia’s Heavy Haul railway to the nation’s economy.

“Heavy haul has some unique characteristics, particularly for technical items. Interestingly the Pilbara miners often use American railroad technical standards – and that’s fine with us. They do that because they have for example ordered a lot of locomotives and equipment historically off the shelf from the United States. We have no interest in reinventing the wheel.

“However, RISSB does much more than just technical Standards. Since its inception, it has focused on addressing the operational, regulatory and safety needs of the Australian Heavy Haul Industry. Publications such as:

  • AS 7472 – Railway Operations – Management of Change
  • AS 7474 – Rail industry – System safety (and its accompanying Guideline)
  • Code of Practice – Rail Safety Investigation
  • Code of Practice – Management of Locomotive Exhaust Emissions
  • Code of Practice – Safety Critical Communications
  • Network and Operational Performance Reporting Guideline
  • Guideline – Safe Decisions
  • The Australian Network Rules and Procedures (ANRP) … are adding great value to Australia’s heavy railway operators.

But knowing where Heavy Haul applies Association of American Railroads (AAR) Standards means RISSB can (and does) develop technical products to complement those publications such as:

  • AS 7658 – Level crossings – rail industry requirements
  • AS 7473 Complex system integration in railways
  • AS 7479 Track maintenance and road rail vehicles – Collision avoidance and proximity warning
  • Code of Practice – Wheel defects
  • Code of Practice – Derailment Protection for Rail Underbridges
  • Guideline – Reliability, Availability, Maintainability (RAM).

“And, of course, RISSB’s Australian Rail Risk Model (ARRM), our stewardship of the Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model (ALCAM) and our Culture Hub survey are all available to support Heavy Haul in informing risk-based decision making,” David added.

“We also help in the sharing of industry best practice as we bring stakeholders together from Heavy Haul along with other sectors of the industry in our cross-industry groups such as the Safety Managers Group and the National Track Worker Safety Forum.” Da

vid says that, as RISSB looks to the future and assesses the needs of Heavy Haul operators, it understands the need for Australian specific reference material to address the current technical components, practices and processes in place within Australia.

“RISSB is working with our Heavy Haul members to identify where we can either supplement the current AAR Standards or introduce more fit for purpose Standards, Codes of Practice or Guidelines which can directly assist the Heavy Haul sector of the Australian Rail Industry and support their accreditations.”

RISSB is driving national harmonisation and interoperability, moving the rail industry towards technical and operational consistency, improving safety, lowering costs and enhancing productivity.

“RISSB is industry’s partner in co-regulation, supporting and working hand-in-hand with the Australian and New Zealand rail industry to provide the essential tools rail organisations need – good practice Standards, Codes of Practice, Guidelines and Rules,” David says.

RISSB’s vast catalogue of more than 220 publications help industry improve safety, reduce costs and increase productivity and efficiency.

During a period of unprecedented growth, RISSB has established itself as an industry leader in co-ordinating industry, promoting interoperability and harmonisation, and championing safety. Delivering Value Before RISSB, rail organisations were forced to bear development costs and safety and operational risks that arose from bringing Standards development in-house.

One rail operator estimated recently that producing and validating a Standard internally would cost their organisation $150,000 to $200,000.

Remarkably, at the same time as it has been increasing its workload, RISSB has reduced its fees, adding even more value to its invaluable service.


RISSB has developed ARRM as an objective, quantitative tool that provides rail organisations with a comprehensive picture of safety risk. It is used to inform:

  • Investment decisions by rail companies and governments
  • Safety cases
  • RISSB’s work programme of Standards, Codes of Practice, Guidelines and Rules
  • Research
  • Cross-industry collaboration • Major new RISSB safety projects and initiatives.

ARRM is Australia’s only national, system-wide rail risk model, providing a tool to assist rail organisations to achieve safety So Far As Is Reasonably Practicable (SFAIRP).

For participating rail companies, ARRM provides organisationally specific risk information that users can interrogate in multiple ways, through a simple and user[1]friendly interface, to produce a wide range of reports. It provides the ability to benchmark an organisation’s levels of risk against anonymised aggregated risk information from other similar rail organisations.

ARRM’s risk information can help to identify areas for improvement, support safety initiatives, and can be used to inform Executive decision-making.

Since its launch, ARRM has processed more than 250,000 occurrence records and modelled safety risk across over 100 different hazardous events. ARRM user numbers are growing by around 20% each year and the number of participating organisations is growing as well with currently 66 involved.


Training is another key element of RISSB’s support of Australia’s rail industry. RISSB training programmes offer unsurpassed technical, theoretical and practical knowledge critical to rail safety. The programmes are focused on RISSB products and can be tailored for a specific rail organisation with 10 or more people interested in the training programme.

RISSB members get discounts on training programs. RISSB offers a number of relevant courses including:

  • Investigate Rail Safety Incidents
  • Undertake a Derailment Investigation
  • Apply Safety Critical Communications in the Rail Environment. RISSB is expanding its training program with an emphasis on delivering training to support industry adoption of RISSB publications and through different delivery channels – online, blended and in-classroom.

Future RISSB courses will be centred on key industry issues and will include e-learning modules and innovative training programs such as the Fundamentals of Rail Management, Safety Critical Communications for Protection Officers and the National Track Safety Induction course.

The National Track Safety Induction course has been developed by the rail industry for those rail workers seeking accredited competency in TLIF 2080 – Safely Accessing the Rail Corridor.

RISSB also offers technical advice to industry on RISSB Standards, Guidelines, Codes of Practice and Rules and broader safety matters