EXPRO – PRESENT AND FUTURE – An evaluation of the EXPRO meetings and transition into Quality Meetings

What are the key HOF issues?

Present day

An EXPRO meeting is a monthly organised multidisciplinary meeting. The meeting is commonly organised by the department of Safety Culture. It revolves around the discussion of operational incidents or accidents. Topics are suggested by the participating members.

The participating members include those of the Safety Culture department, accident/incident investigators, safety specialists from the departments of Traffic Operations and Asset Management, as a well as a safety engineer from TUC Rail.

The goal of the meetings is to get an overview of the incidents or accidents that have happened in the previous month and to look for possible improvements to make it less likely for the incident/accident to reoccur.

There are some weaknesses in this type of return of experience.

  • The EXPRO-meetings are not organised in all areas, only in the following areas:
    • North-East
    • North-West
    • South-West

The Center area has a different approach and the South-East area doesn’t have this type of meeting.

  • The meetings are not all organised in the same fashion. The South-Wester area has a different organiser. There, the department of Safety Culture only has a participating role, not the leading one.
  • Because the incident/accident investigators only investigate safety events, there is no return of positive experiences. Best practices are not treated or visible due to this process.
  • The meetings are discussions, not oriented at solving possible problems. There are only experts participating, no managers. The suggested improvements are mostly specific for the area, not nationwide. It is also very difficult to create a national change, because the meetings are not situated at the right organisational level to have an impact in the organisation.
  • Work accidents are not treated. Punctuality issues are not treated.

Because of the limited visibility of the meetings and the lack of managerial influence, the possibility is currently being researched to evolve into the model that is being used by the Central area (Brussels region): the Quality Meetings.

What did you do?

Future: Quality Meeting

The Quality Meeting in the Central area is organised by the area’s Head Of Asset Management. It’s weekly organised and treats incidents/accidents, punctuality problems and work accidents. The participants include an accident/incident investigator, a quality officer, several members of Asset Management and Traffic Operations, someone from the Safety Culture department and of course the Head Of Asset Management as president of the meeting.

There is a fixed agenda: incidents/accidents, work accidents, punctuality from the period two weeks prior to the meeting (week-2).

Because of the weekly schedule it is possible to address all problems, not just a selected few. It is also easier to keep momentum on the suggested improvements because of the cadans of the meetings. The discussed topics are still relevant when they are discussed and because there is an evaluation of the status of the suggested improvements, they are more likely to be implemented. One weakness still persists: all improvements are still on an area level, not nationwide.

What were the results?

At this moment, there is an experiment going in the North East area, subzone Mechelen. The local manager of Asset Management is applying the Quality Meeting method. It proves to be a very consistent way of getting a view on the daily reality of working in and near the tracks. It creates a better understanding for the participants of Traffic Operations about the problems the Asset Management teams face and vice versa.

Generalising this approach is not easy. The reason this is implementable in the Center area is because this is a small area without subzones. The other areas are all divided into subzones. For example, the North East area is divided into 4 subzones for maintenance and 3 renewal divisions with each a different manager and one overarching Head Of Asset Management. It also has 3 traffic control centers with each an Operations Officer and one overarching Teamleader Operations. The organisation of the quality meetings is something that has to be discussed with the Head Of Asset Management and the teamleader Operations.

To be continued…

Author: Haesevoets Tim (Infrabel)