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A recent report from Austroads, in consultation with Safe Work Australia is helping to educate drivers on the need to consider your fleet vehicles as an extension of your workplace and not just a mode of transport.

Current work health and safety legislation in Australia and New Zealand defines vehicles as a workplace, with vehicle use in road traffic by far the most significant contributor to work-related traumatic injury.

In a nutshell the purpose of the document is to consider how road traffic safety (RTS) connects with work health and safety (WHS) strategies. Effective WHS strategies have long focused on systems:

  • to protect people from harm even when that harm is triggered by their own error
  • to eliminate or shield human exposure to dangerous transfers of energy (whether kinetic, thermal, chemical etc), and
  • to ensure that responsibility for safety is held by those most capable of protecting others.

Road traffic safety (RTS) has much to learn from WHS and needs to harness the power of effective WHS practices. In turn, successful WHS outcomes will depend on reducing road trauma.

More work-related fatal trauma occurs in road traffic than in any other setting, and it is often under-reported. The flow-on effect of this means an increased risk to employees and organisations and the role of the fleet manager becoming even harder to manage.

In its initial findings Austroads has made the following recommendations:

  1. Austroads forward the draft Work Health and Safety Guide: Managing Vehicle Use in Road Traffic to the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities for endorsement, and for publication by WHS agencies in Australia and New Zealand
  2. Austroads forward the proposed Engagement Strategy to the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities for agreement
  3. Austroads seeks the agreement from the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities to the establishment of a joint working group, including major stakeholders, to support continued work in relation to vehicle use in road traffic, based on the Engagement Strategy
  4. Austroads supports the:
    a. establishment and functioning of the joint working group, and delivery of the proposed process evaluation, to the end of 2018
    b. identification and delivery with WHS agencies and stakeholders of a significant data project, such as the inclusion of purpose of journey in Police crash reports
    c. collaborative preparation of a leadership-by-example demonstration project by government agencies in the application of the WHS Guide
    d. collaborative preparation of a tailored WHS Guide for small business wishing to manage vehicle use in road traffic.

Make sure your fleet is actively considering how road safety links with your overall work health and safety policies and procedures. Vehicles must be seen as a true extension of the office and it is the role of every fleet manager to actively promote safety within their organisation.

It will be interesting to see how the proposals from Austroads affect the industry, should the recommendations be put into place.

The full Austroads – Vehicles as Workplace research document is available to read here.