OTSI's core business is to conduct transport safety investigations into rail, bus and ferry safety occurrences. Rail safety investigations may be conducted on behalf of the national rail safety investigator, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), under a collaborative arrangement, or at the instigation of OTSI's Chief Investigator. In addition to its investigation function, OTSI also administers a Confidential Safety Information Reporting Scheme (CSIRS) for transport employees and conducts safety trend analysis of the rail, bus and ferry transport industries.
The scope of OTSI's interest within these transport industries is prescribed by the Transport Administration Act 1988 and the Passenger Transport Act 1990. These Acts allow OTSI to investigate any matter affecting the safe operation of passenger or freight rail services, the management of rail infrastructure and the operation of a bus or ferry that is providing a public passenger service. Investigations undertaken on behalf of the ATSB are conducted in accordance with the Commonwealth's Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003.
The purpose of OTSI's investigations is to identify the contributory factors to a safety occurrence and make recommendations to prevent their recurrence. To maximise the safety outcomes from examining an occurrence, investigations are conducted within the context of a 'just culture'. OTSI does not seek to apportion blame. However, in the event that a safety occurrence was caused by a deliberate and malicious act, the matter will be handed over to the appropriate regulator or enforcement agency.
To allow OTSI timely access to an accident site and other evidence, reporting requirements exist for bus and ferry operators to notify specified safety occurrences to the OTSI Duty Officer. OTSI will determine whether or not the safety occurrence will be investigated. The decision is influenced by:
Rail operators report to the ATSB or the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) depending on the nature of the occurrence.
For all bus and ferry investigations, and rail investigations initiated by OTSI, the final investigation report is tabled by the Minister for Transport in both houses of the NSW Parliament and then subsequently published on this website. Reports on rail investigations undertaken on ATSB's behalf are published on ATSB's website www.atsb.gov.au.