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One of the best ways to prepare for an assessment and get the best value from it (ie gain more assurance about your own activities), is to do your own assessment beforehand (early enough that you have time to fix any findings from it). This will help you understand the documentation and people required for the actual assessment, and also means any potential findings will be the things you couldn’t find yourself.

When your assessment date is confirmed, you should ensure that every person who may be required to speak to the safety assessor is available at that time. You’ll need people at all levels and all applicable parts of the organisation as there is a requirement to consult rail personnel representatives. This ensures the safety assessor gets a broad view of the safety issues that need to be assessed.

Please make clear to the safety assessor before they arrive if there are any particular environmental conditions, PPE, training requirements or access information that is required to enter your premises. If your premises are hard to find or there is no signage and the safety assessor has not visited before, it would be helpful to advise them where to go when they arrive.

In preparation for the actual assessment, refer to your ‘Confirmation of OSA letter’ provided by the safety assessor to see the focus areas that will be given specific attention. They can look at all areas of your operation (examples outlined below), so try to have the necessary information (or access to it) available.

Area assessed

What needs to be shown


  • how you manage document control
  • that your safety case represents your rail activities
  • whether your safety management system (and related documentation) is current, effective and complied with

Organisational management

  • what oversight senior management has in the running of your rail operations
  • your operation’s structure and how effective it is

Rail operations

  • the rail activities you carry out and how they’re covered in your safety case
  • whether there are any planned changes coming up


  • the areas of your operation that interact with other rail participants (including your contractors)
  • the agreements you have with other rail participants
  • how you interact with other rail participants

Maintenance schedules

  • the schedules you have for maintaining your infrastructure and rolling stock
  • assurance that the schedules are complied with
  • that your documentation is in order

Risk management

  • your risk identification, assessment and management processes
  • how you identify, select and implement safety controls
  • how you assess the effectiveness of your safety controls
  • how often you review your risks

Staff and training

  • what training schedules and requirements are in place
  • how you monitor certifications and due dates
  • what arrangements are in place for staff consultation, how staff are informed and how issues and concerns are raised


  • how often you schedule audits
  • how you conduct audits
  • what is in the report and how results have been addressed


You must be able to provide documents that show you are meeting the objectives stated in your safety case and safety management system. Having robust systems and keeping them up to date will help your assessment to run smoothly and minimise the likelihood of assessment findings relating to management and documentation issues.

In the course of an assessment, safety assessors may need to view or take copies of documents or information. Sections 47 and 48 of the Act(external link) allow safety assessors to obtain information for the purposes of carrying out safety assessments and includes the power of entry to the premises.