European Railway Agency - ERA

Making the railway system work better for society

Safety Culture

Cultures, as shared patterns of thinking and acting, develop when people interact and have to accomplish something together.

Safety culture refers to the interaction between the requirements of the Safety Management System (SMS), how people make sense of them, based on their attitudes, values and beliefs, and what they actually do, as seen in decisions and behaviours. Sustainable safety performance requires the alignment of structural SMS and behavioural aspects within an organisation.

Safety is the essential precondition for successful rail business in Europe and a positive safety culture is essential for improving rail safety in Europe. A positive safety culture is characterised by a collective commitment by leaders and individuals to always act safely, in particular when confronted with competing goals.

The success of positive safety culture in other high-risk industries has convinced leaders of the European rail sector, as well as European law-makers, to embrace this philosophy across the continent, thereby creating a harmonised market for rail safety management and reporting.

To understand safety culture in an organisation, specialists and researchers have developed models, which usually involve a set of attributes of a positive safety culture.

Safety culture

[Based on recent work of the Institute for an Industrial Safety Culture]

ERA, with the support of European Commissioner for Transport, has developed a Safety Culture Declaration, which lays down the following principles of a positive safety culture:

  • Risk-based safety management
  • Understanding workplace reality
  • Cultivate a continuous learning environment
  • Integrating safety into business

ERA has presented for the first time the signed declaration at the European Rail Safety Summit held from 10-12 April 2018 in Dubrovnik, Croatia. More than 50 companies initially signed up to the declaration, and many have followed since then.

Join in and sign the European Railway Safety Culture Declaration!