RSSB is a not-for-profit company owned and funded by major stakeholders in the railway industry. RSSB provide support and facilitation for a wide range of cross-industry activities including Human Factors. One way Human Factors support is provided is by helping rail companies tackle their own Human Factors issues.

The Alarms and Alerts Guidance and Sound Library is aimed at anyone concerned with the design of alarms and alerts for use in the rail industry, such as designers, Human Factor specialists, buyers, inspectors/regulators and safety experts.

The areas covered by the guidance include: alarm philosophy; modality (auditory, visual, speech, tactile); false alarms; the environment and consideration of the characteristics of the user.

The tool also provides a facility to conduct an evaluation against good practice principles of current alarms and alerts.  The evaluation provides feedback indicating areas of existing design which do not currently comply with good practice and could benefit from improvements.

Greenstreet Berman Ltd, again in conjunction with the University of Plymouth, developed a Sound Library of different types of playable auditory alarms and alerts. This tool provides playable examples of different combinations of alarms to help to illustrate alarm design principles. Issues covered in the Sound Library include: Priority and Detection; Urgency; Noise and Confusability. The Sound Library also provides examples of a range of different types of auditory alarms and alerts, such as: Speech; Earcons; Traditional Alarms; Abstract Alarms; Auditory Icons; Patterson Alarms; GSM-R Sounds; ERTMS Sounds.

Both the Alarms and Alerts Guidance and the Sound Library are available for free on the internet and you can view them by following  the links below:

Alarms and Alert Guidance and Evaluation Tool

Sound Library