From the legal basis, it follows that responsibility for safe operation lies with the public transport companies. These must adopt all measures necessary to be able to guarantee safety in their area of responsibility. Among other things, this includes organising themselves accordingly, knowing their installations and processes, training their staff and, if necessary, seeking outside specialist expertise (technical expert). The companies are also responsible for the quality of services provided externally.
It is the duty of the FOT to conduct random risk-oriented testing in order to gauge whether the public transport companies are exercising their responsibilities in full. Due to this separation of roles, the FOT is not able to act as a technical expert on behalf of, or in place of the public transport companies: it would simply not be possible for the FOT, in its capacity as a supervisory authority, to evaluate its own safety-relevant work, carried out in the role of a technical expert.
It also follows from this separation of roles that random risk-oriented testing by the FOT in no way substitutes the management, supervision and monitoring activities that the company is required to carry out under its own responsibility. Risk-related approach means a selective inspection of safety-relevant aspects.
The aspects selected for inspection are determined by awareness of specific risks. In its risk assessment, the FOT therefore systematically analyses various information, and, on that basis, determines the areas in which there is urgent need for action. The FOT’s technical specialists are involved in this assessment. Action may be required in all three phases of the Safety Supervision Control Cycle. The random approach means that the supervisory authority does not check all documents and processes in detail.
Consequently, the authority does not carry out comprehensive inspections of files or data, but instead assesses selected elements within selected risk-related aspects. The only legally stipulated exceptions to this approach relate to environmental protection and safety approvals.
Safety supervision is managed by the Navigation (for federally-licensed passenger boat companies) and the Safety Supervision sections (all remaining transport operators under the FOT's responsibility) These sections are responsible for the steering and conduct of supervision over the transport companies during the operational phase. They plan and organise audits, monitoring of operations and inspections in accordance with risk-related principles. Trained and certified lead auditors work in these sections. Each of these auditors exercises various roles:
- As lead auditor, each is responsible for the organisation and the conduct of the supervisory duties allocated to him or her, and for reporting accordingly.
- As contact person for a number of companies, each maintains continuous, co-ordinated contact with the allocated companies. This ensures that the companies know whom they need to contact for questions on safety supervision. The contact persons in the Navigation Section participate in periodic risk-oriented inspections under Art. 50 of the DETEC Implementing Provisions relating to the Shipbuilding Ordinance (AB-SBV). As a specialist in a given field, each is responsible for a technical area of supervision. In this role, he or she works closely with the corresponding internal FOT technical specialists. This ensures the mutual furthering of technical and methodical expertise.