Recommendation Date
Recipient Name
Safety-critical rail workers are not required to declare prescribed medications they are taking when presenting for triggered health assessments. The driver had been prescribed a combination of medication that was known to cause performance impairment and behavioural changes, anxiety, agitated delirium and disorientation in more severe cases. The medicines also came with a warning to patients to not drive or operate heavy machinery until the effects became known. In this case, although the driver had presented for triggered health assessments, the extent of his medication was not known by a KiwiRail health professional and he continued to drive freight and passenger trains.

Additionally, rail workers are not required to give permission for rail medical officers to access medical records held by their private practitioners, which means the rail medical officers would not necessarily have access to all relevant medical information in order to determine their fitness for safety-critical duties.

The Commission recommends that the Chief Executive of the NZ Transport Agency works with the National Rail System Standards Executive to ensure that all rail workers performing safety-critical work, such as drivers, are required to complete the self-assessment questionnaire when presenting for any pre-placement, change- of- risk, periodic or triggered health assessment.
Reply Text
The Transport Agency confirms it will implement this final recommendation.

The guidance for rail licence holders around the conduct of the different health assessments categories is currently outlined in National Rail System Standard 3 (NRSS).

NRSS 3 is to be withdrawn later this year and replaced with the National Transport Commission (Australia) document – National Standard for Health Assessment of Safety Workers (2012). It is anticipated this will be in September 2015.

The Transport Agency has confirmed with the National Transport Commission (Australia) that the intent of the National Standard for Health Assessment of Safety Workers (2012) is that the self-assessment questionnaire be completed by the rail worker when undergoing any type of health assessment.

The Transport Agency gives an undertaking to ensure the NRSS Executive is aware of this intent and that it is clearly conveyed in the Standard.

The time frame for implementation will be communicated to the Transport Accident Investigation Commission as soon as it has been established.
Related Investigation(s)