A correspondent asks

Is it legislated that a rail operator must provide an emergency service such as Rail Emergency Response Unit to respond to rail related incidents within the Sydney Metro area?

For the Sydney Rail Emergency Response Unit see their FaceBoook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rail-Emergency-Response-Unit/202589066532747

There is no specific legislation that says a rail operator must have that sort of emergency response unit but there is plenty of legislation that says they must consider how to manage emergencies on the network and at the workplace.

A rail transport operator must have an emergency management plan (Rail Safety National Law (NSW) s 113) that details, inter alia (Rail Safety National Law Regulations 2012 (NSW) r 19):

(e) initial response procedures for dealing with those emergencies and the provision of rescue services; and

(f) recovery procedures for the restoration of railway operations and the assistance of people affected by the occurrence of those emergencies; and

(g) the allocation of emergency management roles and responsibilities within the rail transport operator’s organisation, and between the operator and other organisations; and

(h) call out procedures; and

(i) the allocation of personnel for the on site management of those emergencies…

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) A person conducting a business or undertaking (a PCBU) must (Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 (NSW) r 43):

… ensure that an emergency  plan is prepared for the workplace, that provides for the following:

(a) emergency  procedures, including:

(i) an effective response to an emergency, and

(ii) evacuation procedures …

As is the way with modern risk management legislation, legislators do not tell PCBU’s (or railways) how to manage risks.  Any workplace must have some level of emergency planning.  Some will rely on some staff with a first aid certificate and floor wardens. Other will have specialist emergency responders to manage the safety of people at the work site. Some industries, depending on the risk, will have on site fire fighters and emergency managers.

Both the Rail Safety National Law and the Work Health and Safety Act set out obligations that the operator and PCBU is required to meet but leaves it up to them to consider what, given the circumstances of their business or undertaking, is the best way to achieve those objectives.  It would be quite a surprise to find a regulation that said an operator must ‘operate an emergency service such as Rail Emergency Response Unit’.    But an operator must do the things required by the Rail Safety National Law and the Work Health and Safety Act.  and operating an emergency response unit may well be a reasonable way to meet those obligations.