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Mark Carne says safety is not about process it's about people's behaviour


Hold the handrail

Did you hold the handrail as you walked downstairs this morning? Network Rail was asking this very question of its employees throughout July as part of a company-wide safety stand down.

Network Rail staff around the country were being challenged to think about even the most basic safety behaviours, starting with always holding the handrail when using stairs and escalators.

Network Rail’s chief executive, Mark Carne, believes it will make rail staff around the country better at spotting small failings and give them more confidence to intervene when they do.

Mark said: “In the first place, it’s a good thing to do. I mean, a thousand people a year die falling down the stairs at home, so it’s the number one cause of domestic accidents. So at one level it’s just a sensible thing to do.

“But the more subliminal message is that this is an organisation where if there is a safe system you should use it, and the safe system for walking down the stairs or walking upstairs is holding the handrail.”

He added: “This campaign is also about giving people the encouragement to intervene if they see anything that isn’t quite right and giving them the opportunity to practice so that they become more skilled and confident in their ability to do it.”

Mark has led safety stand downs for the Network Rail board and the exec committee, as well as attending several across the routes. With the majority of close calls reported to Network Rail relating to physical conditions, the aim of the stand down is to overcome the barriers that can deter people from pointing out their colleagues’ mistakes.

“What this stand down also marks is quite a significant shift from the way we would normally address safety issues,” said Mark. “Normally the railway addresses a safety issue with either an engineering fix or a change to a work process – a new standard, a new way of doing things or a new piece of technology.”

He added: “It’s not about processes, it’s about personal behaviour; that is at the heart of the culture of the industry.”

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