Project 1: Knowledge-sharing with Kazakhstan railway sector, March 2017

The issue

KTZThe EBRD’s experience in the rail sector has identified it as one that attracts a high number of worker and third party injuries and fatalities. Common causes include being struck by trains, electrocution, falls from height and road traffic collisions. This led to the Bank and IOSH discussing ways of supporting rail projects to improve health and safety measures, to control risks to workers and third parties.

Kazakhstan’s railway network is one of the largest in the world. With its vast territory and lack of a significant water transport alternative, the country is heavily reliant on its railway network. It is currently undergoing an expansion.

KTZ is the country’s leading provider of freight and passenger transportation services and the sole provider of public rail infrastructure in Kazakhstan. It plays an important role in the national transport sector and accounts for 47 per cent of rail freight in Kazakhstan. KTZ employs around 136,000 people and, in common with railway organisations across the world, has to deal with a huge array of risks to the health and safety of its workforce.

In 2015, the EBRD and a group of international commercial banks provided a significant syndicated financing package to support a comprehensive modernisation and restructuring programme for KTZ, including environmental, social and health and safety improvements.

While strong health and safety management systems are currently in place, incidents do happen, leading to the Bank and KTZ considering different options to aid efforts to reduce the numbers of accidents and improving health and safety management.

The purpose behind these technical-cooperation projects is to empower our members to share their expertise and exchange existing sector-specific good practice across borders to tackle recurrent risk areas.

The solution

As part of their partnership, IOSH and the EBRD agreed that a technical cooperation was the ideal first project to facilitate this support.

The overall purpose of the technical cooperation assignment was to enable the face-to-face exchange of knowledge and experience between safety teams of Kazakhstan and the UK. Its dual mission was to create a professional development experience for the safety professionals involved, and aid KTZ to build its organisational capacity in preventing health and safety incidents.

The assignment implied mobilising a volunteer from the IOSH Railway Group to visit KTZ’s safety teams and work together to understand challenges, compare good practice and explore different options for improving OSH standards from a railway operator perspective.

After a selection process, it was decided that Keith Morey, Chair of IOSH's Railway Group, would visit KTZ in Astana for a one-week knowledge-sharing assignment.

Specific objectives:

  • Learn how the rail operations compare between the UK and Kazakhstan, in particular challenges in the area of OSH and current practices to tackle
  • Share railway-specific good practice, knowledge and experience exchange between the UK and Kazakhstan
  • Encourage links between IOSH’s Railway group and the KTZ safety team
  • Create an international professional development opportunity for the IOSH volunteer and KTZ safety team
  • Share lessons learned to the wider community of OSH professionals.

Read Keith’s bio and view video diary entries here.

Find out more about the IOSH Railway Group.