Light rail operator Keolis Amey Metrolink (KAM) joined the CIRAS family in January 2021, and since then the company has embedded the service in its safety systems and culture.

KAM’s health and safety manager and CIRAS rep, Carole Mason, shares her experience of launching the CIRAS service, her thoughts on how she’s making it work for KAM - and how it felt to receive the first CIRAS report!

carole mason

Why did Keolis Amey Metrolink decide to join CIRAS?

For us it was about creating an open and honest culture, giving employees every way possible to raise a safety concern that may otherwise go unreported – whatever the reason. Offering several different ways to report means we can have some reassurance that we’ll get to know about issues so we can act to prevent injuries, ill health, or damage. Essentially, it’s about keeping people safe and well so that they go home injury-free each day. CIRAS complements our Stop, Think, Act, Report (STAR) system, partnering with us to offer a route for our people to come forward and be heard in confidence. The CIRAS and STAR reporting channels reinforce KAM’s commitment to zero harm by creating a positive, transparent reporting and learning culture. This encourages our employees to take personal responsibility for improving the health and safety environment for their colleagues and our customers.

What’s the role of the CIRAS rep at Keolis Amey Metrolink? And what have you done since you started?

As rep, I make sure everyone at KAM gets the chance to benefit from our membership. I join in the rep learning webinars and invite anyone else from KAM who might benefit to come along. Afterwards, I think about how the topic information can be disseminated throughout the business. I also keep an eye on the website as there are some great good practice initiatives that can be embedded in your business. I read the reports to see what other members have done to improve health and safety and think about whether we could do something similar.

I make sure that people know about CIRAS and understand how it can help them – for example I circulate the CIRAS Frontline Matters newsletter to all departments. And of course, if we receive any reports, we make the best of any opportunities they give us to improve health and safety.

How have you launched CIRAS and what worked particularly well?

We formed a great partnership with our CIRAS stakeholder manager immediately and met regularly to plan the launch. The KAM senior management team were on board straight away, and we held an early video and Q&A session with the stakeholder manager. Involving KAM’s communications manager from the start was also really beneficial, as she knew the best way to get the word out.

Another important success factor was getting our people involved. We sent invites to as many people as possible, inviting them to the launch, and created briefings for frontline employees who couldn’t join. We gave out information cards at team briefings and provided a Q&A and information pack to line managers and supervisors to help them do this.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to really embed CIRAS in their business?

Look for fresh ideas for getting the message out in a way that will reach everyone – particularly now when so many people have been restricted to meeting online and may have Teams and PowerPoint fatigue. We chose a video launch with a live Q&A with the CIRAS stakeholder manager to capture the audience’s attention. We’d not tried this before at KAM and it was very well received.

Keep things visual. Make use of the merchandise and posters that CIRAS offers and remember that CIRAS is your partner: they want you to succeed – so work closely with them and your comms team.

Don’t stop when the initial launch is over. Keep working with your CIRAS stakeholder manager and make plans for six to eight months after the launch date to keep momentum going and find fresh ways to make CIRAS visible. We’re looking at a safety stand down day later this year to do this.

Use the CIRAS website. It’s a useful tool to gain from other members’ experiences, and there are a lot of resources to help you embed CIRAS in your workplace. For example, check out the case studies which can help people see CIRAS in action.

Last but not least, if you have questions, get in touch with your stakeholder manager. I have found ours to be so knowledgeable and approachable – no question is silly.

You’ve had your first report – what was that experience like?

At first it felt a bit daunting, especially around whether I could share the report to get the right answers and whether that would impact on confidentiality. After reading the information CIRAS sent me on how to respond to a report, I felt much better.

My biggest piece of advice is: don’t be afraid of receiving a report. Answer truthfully and if there is something that you can learn from it, be open about that. This is how you will continuously improve safety, as employees will see that you are transparent and are doing something to make things better. Feedback is crucial to keep employees engaged. We learned a lot in responding to our first report and we have communicated the findings of the incident with employees in a lessons learned bulletin that we have displayed on noticeboards and on our intranet.