The key elements of the organisational safety culture appraisal tool (OSCAT) are:

The tool has five scenarios with prompt questions linked to a set of safety culture elements and sub-elements.The elements are based on research, the Waterfall and Glenbrook inquiry findings and input from subject matter experts.

Positive and negative performance indicators are included to allow for scoring on the sub-elements. The following table provides an example of prompting questions and performance indicators for the element 'Information Flow' and the sub-element 'Feedback'.

Prompting questions and performance indicators

This table shows examples of prompting questions and performance indicators.


3 Information Flow


3.3 Feedback

Prompting questions

  • Are staff provided with feedback about the progress or outcome of the reported concern?
  • Were staff kept informed on the status of the issue?
  • How was this feedback given?
  • Was there a check to ensure that the message was received?

Positive performance indicators

  • Staff were kept informed about the status of the issue
  • Message was communicated and checked to see if received and understood

Negative performance indicators

  • Staff were not given any information about the status of the issue
  • Staff did not take action to find out about the status of the issue
  • Message given but not checked that it was received and understood.

Setting up a safety culture appraisal

Organisations conducting planning to conduct a safety culture appraisal should set firm rules around the activity and ensure these are clearly communicated to participants.

The appraisal should be:

  • Conducted independently of any compliance activities
  • Non-punitive with no negative consequences for people openly discussing safety concerns
  • Confidential.

Who should conduct the appraisal?

A safety culture appraisal would ideally be conducted by a neutral person, possibly external to the organisation.

The person responsible for leading the safety culture appraisal should have a good understanding of the impact of organisational culture and how culture can be improved. Preferably, the person should have a background in safety culture analysis, be experienced with behavioural interviewing techniques, and have an understanding of the operational context of the organisation.

How can the findings be used effectively?

Findings from the safety culture appraisal can be used to:

  • improve safety management
  • inform a strategy for continuously improving the organisation's safety culture
  • provide insights into the implementation of a safety management system
  • highlight unidentified or untreated risks
  • assist in choosing areas to focus rail resource management or other training.