Time2Focus Initiative

Improving safety performance during the redevelopment London Bridge station

Improving safety performance at London Bridge station

From Time2Talk to Time2Focus

Time 2 Talk was an initiative adopted by Thameslink Programme to complement other safety processes and initiatives with the aim of promoting challenging, inquisitive conversations about safety with a view to improving safety performance. It was aligned to our vision of ‘Everyone Home Safe Every Day’. Time2Talk encouraged participants to investigate further their understanding of project processes and procedures formed on the basis of the ‘layers of protection’ defined in the ‘Swiss cheese’ model.

The basic premise is that it’s less complicated to investigate which layers have failed following a safety incident – but not so simple to identify these failures, or holes, in the layers when things are apparently working well. Accidents and incidents tend to shine a light on, and starkly highlight the failure points; Time2Talk was about identifying them through asking open ‘coaching style’ questions in the following areas:

  • Motivation – for example, what human factors are influencing behaviour
  • Verification – for example, what practices are being adopted and whether there is compliance with process
  • Education – for example, where the coach is simply trying to understand a process in more detail.

Figure 1: The ‘Swiss cheese’ model

The basic premise is that it’s less complicated to investigate which layers have failed following a safety incident – but not so simple to identify these failures, or holes, in the layers when things are apparently working well.


Engagement levels had been good for Thameslink Programme. However, there were several key challenges. Until 2017 Time2Talk was being mandated for the team but focussed on topics of their choice. Engagement was clearly starting to dwindle. There was also a risk that safety incidents could see an upturn as the project entered its final stages. With the end of the London Bridge Station Redevelopment project coming into sight, the management team were aware that resources and commitment would continue to decline and that other projects in the programme had suffered and increased accident frequency rate in the latter stages.

Armed with this prior experience, where there was a significant increase in incidents at the end of the project, the management team wanted to ensure that we actively reduced the risk of an increase in safety incidents. The key factors were identified as:

  • Resources – the project would start to demobilise and so less people would be engaged on Time2Talk
  • Engagement – those remaining may be increasingly concentrating on future assignments and attention may drift due to the nature and stage of the project
  • Quality – that ultimately the quality of engagements would be less effective as a result.

Figure 2: Fatality Weighted Index (FWI) table for Blackfriars Station overlaid with London Bridge

Other projects in the programme had suffered an increased accident frequency rate in the latter stages.

Moving to a risk-based approach

Mindful of these challenges, the London Bridge Redevelopment Project wanted to improve the targeting and engagement by launching a new campaign to place an emphasis on a periodic topic, pairing team members up to ensure good quality conversations and coverage. The team devised a risk based approach for conducting Time2Talk which would provide a framework for future engagement. This was called Time2Focus and was linked to key relevant schedule activities so that our period focus was always on the highest risk priority at that time.

Once Time2Focus was introduced, Time2Talk engagement levels increased significantly. The project managed to keep its safety performance within reasonable limits – avoiding the ‘spike’ seen at other major stations projects in the programme.

It was also agreed that some steps needed to be taken to reinforce the right behaviours – and a rewards scheme was set up both for those meeting their periodic targets on Time2Talk but most importantly for the teams out on site in the instances where good practice was being demonstrated.


The Time2Talk initiative for safety conversations, and the subsequent risk based approach associated with this Time2Focus, provided the project with:

  • A strongly branded framework for focussing the teams on safety
  • High levels of safety engagement throughout the project (See Figure 4 – the project managed to keep a focus on this initiative, and others, consistently high for two years in spite of a sharp decline in staff numbers during 2018
  • Improved safety performance levels on the project in terms of Lost Time Incident Frequency Rate (See Figure 5 – Lost time in jury frequency rates have been kept below 0.25 for over two years)
  • A vehicle to celebrate success, where good practice or commitment to safety could be displayed for all to see on a periodic basis.

Figure 3: FWI Blackfriars vs London Bridge Station

Thameslink Programme has worked actively on a series of safety initiatives and had continued to learn and improve its safety performance from previous project areas. The decreasing trend on safety incidents is clear.

Figure 4: London Bridge – Time2Talk totals since introduction

The project managed to keep a focus on this initiative, and others, consistently high for two years despite a sharp decline in staff numbers

Figure 5: London Bridge – Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate

Lost time injury frequency rates were kept below 0.25 for over two years.




Safety performance improvement cannot simply be driven from post incident investigations, therefore improving engagement and behaviours through good regular challenging conversations is a vital tool in the on-going challenges of projects to improve safety and reduce harm. Anyone establishing a new project with all the complex challenges that entails; needs to think carefully about how they can get the best behaviours and thus ensure the best possible outcomes.

Both Network Rail and Costain contributed a great deal to the safety performance at London Bridge Station in particular, often working together openly on safety campaigns and performance improvement measures, both client and contractor maintained commitment throughout the project to this end and this is a very positive enabler which is essential if a project is serious about improving safety. With hindsight, we may have benefited from planning our respective safety strategies more closely together; for example Time2Focus was a Network Rail initiative based on Network Rail judgement and would have benefited from Principal Contractor input at the planning stage.

Key learning:

  • Having management buy in at an early stage and maintaining energy and positive commitment is an essential enabler
  • Having a risk based safety strategy around staff engagement is essential. Where people either actively enquire about processes and if necessary challenge in a spirit of respectfulness.
  • Involving others in the planning process of assessing high risk focus areas against the schedule is essential.
  • Teaming the client and contractor together to focus on these topics is beneficial to maintain the focus in the right areas and on the right topics at the right time.
  • Recording and feeding back the results is beneficial if you want to maintain engagement
  • Recognising good practice and participants engagement is essential to both improving safety through encouraging the right behaviour and engagement.
  • Record the results via an on line system and ensure people have safety in their personal objectives – as this helps to measure engagement levels.

About the author

Case study produced by Lewis Atherton, Programme Manager – Network Rail Infrastructure Projects, October 2018.

Further information

For more information on this Learning Legacy case study please email contact@thameslinkprogramme.co.uk


Time2Focus - Wrap-up presentation

This overview presentation by Network Rail and Costain, from September 2018, reflects on the main Time2Focus areas of concern, and how they influenced worker behaviour on site.

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