Auditing the virtual way

In a world governed by systems, the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR) is no different in that we ensure that operators reach the optimal level of compliance with the National Railway Safety Regulator Act No. 16 of 2002 (as amended) and other relevant national legislation and standards.

In 2020, the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic which crippled the global economy. On 26 March 2020, a national lockdown commenced in South Africa, which meant that businesses had to rethink how best to achieve results under unprecedented circumstances.

The RSR became proactive in leading the way when it comes to its core mandate. Activities such as audits and inspections were conducted via different online platforms in the later part of 2020.   The RSR has made it simple for the operators to fully cooperate with the audits and be able to monitor their compliance.

Here are simple steps to help operators with the life cycle of a virtual audit:

1. The audit programme is prepared by the regions from the Annual Performance Plan (APP) and loaded on the National Information Management System (NIMS). Login details are issued to the Nominated Manager.
2. The operator is notified of the programme which consists of the type, date, time, and area of the activity. Upon the operator receiving the programme, the operator should confirm the dates in writing or if telephonically, a confirmation email should be sent to the RSR.
3. Audit plan,consisting of the standards and elements to be audited, is issued to the operator.   Gather all information as required in the standards pertaining to the elements to be audited.
4. The agenda of the activity is issued to the operator. Prepare relevant resources.
5. The list of documents required from the operator is issued prior to the audit. Prepare the documents, label them as labelled in the list provided. These documents should be loaded on the NIMS system
6. The RSR inspector reviews the documents. Likewise, these should also be reviewed and be shared with the team that will be part of the audit.
7. Ensure that at least one of the online virtual systems such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype for Business and/or others are installed and tested on prior to the audits. To proceed, internet access is key. Ensure that at least one of the online virtual systems such as Microsoft Teams Zoom, Skype for Business and/or others are installed and tested prior to the audits.
8. The RSR lead inspector sends a reminder to the operator closer to the time. If possible, the operator can request a test run with the RSR inspector.
9. A link for connection is provided to the operator. In the event that the operators/RSR Inspector are disconnected due to unforeseen circumstances, the disconnected person should reconnect using the same link provided prior to the audit or a teleconference can also be used as a means to conduct the activity.
10. The operator will be informed if the activity is recorded during the opening of the meeting. If in agreement, then proceed or if not, then the recording should be stopped.
11. How to load documents in preparation for sharing during the audit. Open the documents on the desktop and when it is time to present, share the documents as per the functionality of the virtual platform being used.

Ensure that the video and volume buttons are turned on for introduction purposes and once all is done then mute the volume. Raise the hand icon and unmute when you want to talk.

Microsoft Teams is the most favourable to utilise in terms of reliability and overall quality of the system among the operators.

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