Title

ORGANIZATIONAL COMPETENCE IN STRATEGIC SAFETY MANAGEMENT: SELF-ASSESSMENT IN U.K. RAIL INDUSTRY

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date

2004

Subject Area

planning - safety/accidents, land use - planning, economics - appraisal/evaluation, organisation - management, mode - bus, mode - rail

Keywords

Vulnerability assessment, United Kingdom, Strategies, Strategic planning, Self evaluation, Safety management, Risk management, Risk assessment, Regulatory policy, Railways, Railroads, Railroad safety, Priorities, Policy, Policies, Performance, Organizational effectiveness, Objectives, Mentoring, Managerial personnel, Human factors, Great Britain, Government policy, Goals, Businessmen

Abstract

Competence Assurance Solutions Ltd. (CAS) produced the "Good Practice Guide" in 2000, the first version of Railway Safety's "Good Practice Guides" for strategic safety management. The guides and accompanying software contain a self-assessment process that enables the top management teams of railway companies to determine whether the team and the organization are sufficiently competent to discharge their strategic safety management responsibilities. To support the "Good Practice Guides," CAS provides, on behalf of the Rail Safety and Standards Board (which succeeded Railway Safety on April 1, 2003), a mentoring process to guide top management teams through the self-assessment process. The findings and conclusions from the ongoing mentoring process are presented. At present, 27 leading U.K. rail companies are being mentored. They are in different stages of the process, although many have completed a self-assessment in all four of the key strategic areas considered: policy and strategy, risk assessment and control, organizational resourcing and support, and operational control. Already, a pattern has emerged among those companies that have completed the assessment. Almost all consider themselves stronger in the areas of strategy and policy and operational control and weaker in the areas of risk control and resourcing and support. The weaknesses are particularly marked for human factors. Furthermore, companies differ significantly in their self-ratings, with these differences being reflected in some aspects of safety performance. Consideration is given to the safety issues that dominate the minds of senior teams, their areas of strength and weakness, the characteristics of high- and low-scoring companies, and the sources of unrealistic self-assessments.