Submission to ONRSR regarding In-Cab Audio and Video Recordings

The RTBU has made a submission to the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) regarding the use of in-cab video and audio recording devices.

Summary of the submission

The RTBU strongly supports measures to improve safety and regular works with employers to do so on the rail network. Indeed, safety is at the heart of our role in representing the interests of our members. We are deeply concerned, however, that this Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (CRIS) presents a misleading view of the safety benefits of In-Cab Recording (ICR) devices) and underplays the safety risks associated with these devices. Moreover, we contend that the extended use of ICR devices will have little if any impact on the efficacy of rail safety investigations while the significant detrimental effect on the mental health of workers is underplayed or completely ignored.

Prior to any extension in the use of ICR in rail industry, ONRSR and the relevant State Ministers must address a range of preventative measures as addressed on page 3 (Key Issues). These safety measures include:

• Strengthening the current inadequate fatigue management regime;
• Reviewing the use of Driver-Only Operations (DOO); and
• Establishing nationally-consistent safe-working rules across Australia.

If those safety measures are addressed and quantum improvements made which would lead to an “increased safety benefit”, then the RTBU would be prepared to conditionally support Option 2, Voluntary in-cab audio and video safety recordings in passenger trains and freight locomotives, on the following conditions:

• the proposed standards or code of practice be determined by the Responsible Ministers under the RSNL, not the Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB), and must be enforceable.
• the proposed standards or code of practice specify that ICR devices can only record video, and not audio, in order to prevent electronic eavesdropping on private conversations; In more specific terms, that the ICR devices are required to be incapable of recording audio to remove temptation on the part of overly enthusiastic managers who may not be aware that they are in breach of various state laws in recording private conversations.
• that all data from ICR devices be under the legal ownership and control of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), not ONRSR. Operators shall not be able to access that data;
• data collected by ICR must not be used for disciplinary action against a rail worker;
• data from ICR must not be admissible as evidence in either criminal or civil proceedings; and
• ONRSR commits to conducting research on the psychological impact of electronic monitoring of train crew, particularly in relation to stress, anxiety and fatigue.

Click here to see the RTBU's full submission to ONRSR.