TSV safety forum

By: Amie Hickland


About 35 people turned out to a Transport Safety Victoria forum held in Geelong this month

TSV safety forum
Transport Safety Victoria director bus safety Stephen Turner presents to about 35 delegates in Geelong

Victorian operators are being urged to make sure they are properly accredited as the final accreditation deadline looms at the end of this year.

Operators are now required under the Bus Safety Act 2009 to ensure they have the proper accreditation, and have until December 31 2015 to fulfil the requirements.

Transport Safety Victoria (TSV) recently held a series of forums to discuss the importance of accreditation with operators, as well as other safety issues.

The forums also provided Victorian operators with the chance to directly communicate with TSV staff any issues they have with the accreditation process.

One of the bus safety forums was held in Geelong on February 12 and attended by about 35 people.

TSV director bus safety Stephen Turner started off the evening with an overview and lessons learned from the 2005 Texas bus fire, in which 23 people died.

The bus company was transporting assisted living home residents so many had mobility issues as well as many other mitigating factors.

Turner says this is an example of a bus accident which can be learned from, particularly as Victoria has had 35 bus fires reported over three years.

The incident resulted in development of the Contributing Factors Framework (CFF) which has been applied across all modes covered by TSV.

"For us, that’s a positive," says Turner.

"The lessons achieved here is to look at the risks and reduce the risks as much as possible.

"What happened in Texas could happen here."

TSV also covers marine and rail, and any bus specific information has been rebranded under the new yellow Bus Safety Victoria branding to avoid any confusion.

Turner adds there is scope for operators to further reduce risks outside of legal requirements.

"There are opportunities for reducing risks at a strategic and bus operation level," he says.

"I have an insight into your operation but we have 2700 operations in Victoria – I do not intimately know every operation in Victoria."

ACCREDITATION

The forum was also an opportunity for operators to get some clarification around the accreditation process.

One of the major changes to the Bus Safety Act 2009 means all operators are now required to demonstrate competency to achieve accreditation.

The Safety Management Course is offered by Monash University and consists of two subjects - Subject 5101; Introduction to Bus safety and Subject 5102; Safety Risk Management for Bus Operators and is one way to do this.

Operators who want to be accredited must demonstrate their risk management competency and the course is one way they can do that.

Subject leader Bill Kilpatrick was at the forum to explain to operators the process and importance of passing the course which has a timeframe of 12 weeks to complete.

He says the course is designed to fit around operator’s business requirements allowing flexibility – the record being one operator taking a weekend to complete one subject.

"Some people haven even done it in a weekend, and they’ve done it very, very well."

The course is also designed in a way which puts operator’s business knowledge to paper: "some people see ‘Monash University’ and think it’s going to be an academic course".

Kilpatrick says it’s essential for owners to undertake the course, especially as it is a legislative requirement to gain accreditation.

There has been some resistance from operators, particularly those who have been in the industry for decades.

"He’ll say ‘we’ve been running a bus service for 54 years and I’ve never has an accident’ – that’s just good luck, not good management," says Kilpatrick.

TSV also used the forum as an opportunity to communicate with operators some areas where the regulator is planning to cut ‘red tape’.

The regulator has also been given authority to issue infringement notices where necessary resulting in an instant fine for operators.

Turner concluded the evening by emphasising the importance of safety regulations and the impact on the Victorian bus industry.

"The bus industry in Victoria is one of the safest bus industries worldwide," he says.

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