ASTANA – Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ), the nation’s state-owned railway and logistics operator, is exchanging experience with the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the British-based organisation for health and safety professionals. Railway group chair Keith Morey spent a week in the capital to see how KTZ protects its workforce and ensures exchange experience in the field.
“Everything I have seen shows that the company is willing to move forward with the times and wants to be a leader and I think you’ve got enough scope to be a world-class leader in railways and their safety,” said Morey in an interview with The Astana Times.
Morey, who is also a part of Network Rail’s infrastructure projects team in the United Kingdom, met with the health and safety team at KTZ to discuss the challenges it faces.
“I am keen to learn how they manage these risks. It is a two-way communication. I hope to be able to share my own experience in case they find something useful to replicate for managing risks, but at the same time, to be able to bring back new ideas for our work in the U.K.,” he said.
The visit will contribute to sharing good practices from both the U.K. and Kazakhstan rail networks and build links between relevant organisations. IOSH is the chartered body for health and safety professionals. With more than 46,000 members in more than 120 countries, it is the world’s biggest professional health and safety organisation.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for all parties. KTZ is a huge operation and, as with any rail industry organisation, there are many risks faced by their workers,” said Morey.
KTZ is planning to expand its operations and is keen to interact with a railway peer with years of experience in the same sector to compare health and safety practices.
“I am really impressed with the facilities, especially the new engineering facility where new locomotives are being built. The new coaches were very good. The collaboration between Kazakhstan and Spain with coaches is a very good example,” he said speaking of a Talgo plant near Astana, adding some of the engineers brought work practices from Spain, where they were trained, and are very helpful and willing to share information.
Everything realting to safety has been taken seriously and much attention is being paid to it, said Morley.
“There are always opportunities to improve, because the IOSH certification says you should look and continue improvements. The fact that KTZ is willing to have me here and share experience shows the willingness to learn and find ways to improve,” he added.
Concerning particular ways for improvement, Morey noted the next step on KTZ’s journey will be “a behavioural, modern way or more Western way of doing things rather than the Russian [Soviet] way. A slightly different perspective from the people. It is not about the raw book; it is more about people and working with people to achieve the best.”
The main difference between how safety is managed in the U.K. and Kazakhstan is culture and openness, said Morey.
“We have much more of an ‘open’ sort of culture in the U.K. regarding safety. The actual thing is whether people will speak up if something isn’t quite right; are they willing to say something,” he noted.
He added Kazakhstan has moved a long way and “safety is something that comes on a journey.”
“The meeting where the two organisations exchange information and experience in the field of safety and health protection in the transport sector should promote the establishment of business relations and develop cooperation,” said Aidos Aishikov, General Manager of KTZ’s Ecology and Industrial Safety Department.
Morey’s visit is the first activity as part of a partnership between IOSH and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The organisations are working together “to ensure that safety and health is at the forefront of business operations in emerging Europe and beyond,” according to the IOSH website. KTZ has been a long-term partner of EBRD.
“This assignment provides an opportunity for both the IOSH Railway Group and KTZ to transfer and exchange sector-specific knowledge, learn new skills and promote alternative health and safety standards from both the U.K. and Kazakhstan which have been effective in protecting rail workers,” said Derran Williams, EBRD Principal Health and Safety Advisor.
“This first project to be set up under our partnership with the EBRD will allow for a two-way exchange of information on how risks in the industry can be successfully managed. This is timely ahead of KTZ’s expansion plans and will help to pave the way for healthier and safer working environments across their operations. We thank Keith for volunteering his time and valuable experience,” said IOSH’s Policy Executive Director Shelley Frost.