Wednesday 11 October 2023

The UIC Safety Unit takes part in the International Rail Safety Council (IRSC) 2023

Share this article

The International Rail Safety Council (IRSC) 2023 was held from 1-6 October 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. On 3 October, Frédéric Hénon, UIC Head of Operations and Safety, gave a presentation on how to improve safety culture by developing monitoring guidelines using the “appropriation” and “deployment” indicators developed by UIC.

After outlining a 3-step action plan for developing a more positive safety culture within an organisation, he then presented 3 indicators for its monitoring:

  • Appropriation indicator: to assess where the company is in relation to its safety objectives
  • Deployment indicator: to measure the steps being taken to develop a safety culture
  • Results indicator: to measure whether the work in progress is producing a positive and sustainable outcome

He explained that these additional indicators are a complement to the commonly used KPIs and result indicators, which usually drive the safety dashboards, primarily linked with SMS performance. These indicators enable safety culture “enablers” to be connected with action plan design and implementation, which look to improve overall safety and performance.

On 4 October, he also gave a presentation on the culture and mindset within railways, and stressed the need to prepare railway staff for the changes in culture linked to upcoming digital and technical innovation. Recognising the impact of digital technologies on the rail sector and the need for a cultural shift to accompany these changes, UIC has decided to launch the Mind4Change study.

Hénon therefore presented the study’s objectives, the partners involved, and the expected results. He focused on the drivers of digital and societal transformation and the categories of staff that will be impacted.

After mentioning which (individual or collective) factors contribute to a resistance to change, he discussed the barriers to changes in culture on an individual and organisational level, as well as the methods for supporting this change:

  • Communication and mobilisation
  • Individual and collective support
  • Training
  • Organisation

Additionally, Virginie Papillault, Manager of Human & Organisational Factors and Safety Culture at UIC, gave a presentation on the “Peer Review between Railway Stakeholders” as a key tool for improving safety culture. She gave the results of the Twinning II European Project, and then described how a peer review in either EU or non-EU companies should be conducted. Finally, she outlined the benefits of conducting these peer review exercises, enabling the development of a systemic view of safety, and how this brings a positive approach to safety culture, both for the host company and for the team of reviewers.

Ludwig Koschutnig, from ÖBB Infrastructure, and Vincent Vanhoutte and Natacha Dedecker, from Infrabel, also gave feedback from two peer-reviewed host companies.

To support the rail sector in future peer reviews, a Safety Culture Peer Review handbook was drawn up by UIC and ERA and is available at

Finally, Papillault, together with Jayne Yeo, ERA, and Nora Balfe, Irish Rail, discussed the new RailHOF Digital Platform on “Sharing and exchanging knowledge on Human and Organisational Factors in rail (see

RailHOF is a free, public platform, designed to share and exchange knowledge on Organisational and Human Factors (HOF). It is a user-centred tool that has been developed to integrate user needs. RailHOF, an evolving and connected knowledge network on HOF and Safety, is a concrete illustration of how international collaboration can look between train operators.

Fiona Kenvyn, Metro Trains Melbourne, Australia, Paul Leach and Ann Mills, Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), United Kingdom, Bernard Penners, Infrabel, and Michaela Schwarz, ÖBB, Austria, are active contributors and members of RailHOF.
Follow RailHOF on LinkedIn at

For further information, please contact Frédéric Hénon, UIC Head of Operations and Safety Unit, at

and Virginie Papillault, UIC Manager - Human & Organisational Factors and Safety Culture, at

1 vote

Average rating: 5 / 5