A culture in the sense of shared patterns of thought and behavior unfolds its effects in social and organisational situations, among other things. Numerous studies put the entire organisation with its patterns of thought and behavior at the centre of the safety debate. The concept of safety culture was increasingly included in the debate in the 1990s in order to focus attention on non-technical safety aspects, such as information and decision-making processes, safety and barrier systems and the communication patterns of organisations. In this context, the entirety of characteristics and attitudes of organisations and individuals with regard to security issues is considered.
The guidelines laid down by the European Union Agency for Railways provide for the integration of a safety culture into the safety management system of European railway companies. In the cooperation project, measures for the integration of human and organisational variables influencing the safety culture of the railway sector are therefore to be developed and incorporated into the existing safety management system.
The aim of the project is to further develop the safety management in the railway sector in accordance with the specifications of the European Union Agency for Railways. The main focus lies on human and organisational factors which are to be included in the monitoring system of the safety management. The elaboration of measures for the safety-oriented control of organisational actions is based on a review of safety-relevant processes and surveys.
Safety culture is described as a holistic phenomenon that represents an interplay between “non-observable” and “observable” features of an organisational culture. Safety management as a component of the safety culture initiates measures at an observable level. However, targeted optimisation with regard to security also depends on non-observable influencing factors (standards, values, etc.). The inclusion of human and organisational variables influencing the safety culture is the practical implementation of the above-mentioned holistic approach. In order to outline the observable and non-observable characteristics, different methods are used, such as site inspections, document analyses, interviews and questionnaires.
After the derivation of a target picture consisting of standardised specifications of the Railway Agency of the European Union and necessary competences for safety management, the actual situation is analysed. For this purpose, safety-critical processes, measures and regulations are looked at by means of surveys and document analyses in order to holistically assess the previous consideration of human and organisational influencing variables. After the completion of the target-performance comparison, a procedure for the safety-oriented control of organisational actions is worked out and recommendations for action are derived.