Rail safety research

Hidden (1989) found that a 'poor safety culture' in British Rail was a 'key determinant' underlying the Clapham Junction train accident.

The inquiries into the rail accidents in Glenbrook, NSW in 1999 and Waterfall, NSW in 2003, concluded that a degraded safety culture was a major contributing factor. Similar links have also been suggested from studies into Chernobyl, Longford, Challenger, Columbia and BP Texas City.

The reports of inquiry into these rail accidents are available online: 

The Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB) Safety Culture Toolkit offers a quantitative approach to capturing large quantities of data based on attitudes and perceptions. More information is available on the RISSB website.

A checklist developed by Professor James Reason for self-assessment of institutional reliance is available on Transport Canada's website.


  • For more information about the cultural factors implicated in the Glenbrook and Waterfall accidents, see Hopkins, A. (2005) Safety, Culture and Risk: The Organisational Causes of Disasters, Sydney, NSW: CCH Australia.
  • For more information about the Chernobyl disaster, see Cooper, M. D. (2000). Towards a model of safety culture. Safety Science, 36, 111-136.
  • For more information about the cultural issues contributing to the BP Texas City accident, see Hopkins, A. (2008). Failure to Learn: The BP Texas City Refinery Disaster. Sydney, NSW: CCH Australia.