Skip to main content
22 Nov 2023

Road Safe in the Workplace

Road Safe in the Workplace

Written by Road Sense Australia

You’ve heard of ‘Stop, Drop and Roll’ and you know what to do if someone ‘Slips, Trips and Falls’. Maybe you’re even qualified to perform CPR to the beat of the Bee Gee’s ‘Staying Alive’ on a co-worker… but do you know how to be road safe in the workplace? 

On our roads, work-related crashes make up 15% of national road deaths each year. 

In fact, 38% of Australia’s reported occupational fatalities in 2021 were caused by vehicle crashes; and in 2019, that number sat at an even higher 43%. 

Despite being the most common cause of work-related fatalities, injuries, and absences, this occupational safety issue remains brushed under the rug. 

Who makes up this industry? 

From freight and logistics workers to couriers and posties, rideshares and private transport drivers, to fast food delivery and mobile maintenance crew, there are a number of people who work on the roads. 

The 2020, 63% increase in online retail sales and 12% increase in fast-food delivery services, as spurred by nationwide lockdowns, only supercharged this number further, leading to the increased onboarding of fresh couriers and delivery recruits. 

In fact, in February 2021, it was reported that over 200,000 individuals were employed in the Transport and Logistics Industry. Unfortunately, this growth also correlated with the 10% increase in the number of annual work-related vehicle fatalities occurring in 2021 when compared to previous years, as reported by Safe Work Australia. 

Overall, the unfortunate reality is, that depending on what type of vehicle or good is being transported, between 69-80% of fatalities per sub-industry are caused by vehicle incidents. 

Those who do not lose their lives in such accidents often end up requiring workers’ compensation, with approximately 14 serious injury claims being made by those in the road transport industry alone, every day.

Does this mean road safety implementation benefits are only limited to occupational drivers? 

The need for improved Work Health and Safety road safety education may seem relevant only to those who drive primarily during their work hours. However, these claims aren’t just limited to truck or transport workers. Agriculture and construction vehicle workers, those who drive between worksites, go for coffee and lunch runs, and even those who drive to and from work are all represented in such statistics.  
With the 2021 Australian Census reporting that around 53% of individuals commute to work on the daily, it’s clear that road safety implementation could benefit more than just occupational drivers.  

Shifting gears to tackle the road safety problem

Road safety at work is a problem so widespread that it might seem intimidating to tackle, but addressing the issue from the beginning of the employment process could be a step in the right direction. 

Under Work, Health and Safety law, businesses and employers are obligated to train their workers and ensure their welfare. 

It’s an obligation that comes with the job, and while it can be argued that anything that takes place on the roads and behind the wheel is a driver issue (or at the very least a public one), when the roads are the workplace, and the vehicle is the worksite, the lines of duty of care begin to blur. 

From providing adequate and up to date driver training, making sure vehicles and their equipment are safe, providing clear guidelines and measures for post-incident responses, or simply making sure an employee is fit for work before starting their shift, there are several processes employers can have in place to promote road safety. 

1. Embedding road safety into your OH&S or WHS Plan 

One way to reduce the stress of driving for employees – whether simply for commuting purposes or because it’s part of the job – is to embed road safety into your business’s OH&S or WHS plan.  

Doing so can:

  • Reduce the risk of death and serious injury on the roads

  • Ensure WHS legislative requirements are met

  • Potentially reduce the costs of insurance premiums and vehicle maintenance 

  • Prevent the accumulation of legal costs and cost of penalties in the case of a crash 

  • Minimise loss of wages to worker injuries and compensation 

  • Motivate workers and improve mental health culture in the workplace 

  • Promote Corporate Social Responsibility 

  • Give you a competitive edge when hiring 

  • Improve staff retention 

2. Choosing the safest fleet vehicles  

When it comes to purchasing vehicles, specifically fleet vehicles, choosing one that’s 5-star ANCAP or has safety features can also help prevent crashes in the event of human error. This includes features such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Brake Assist Systems (BAS) or Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), a reverse camera or warning system or even Lane Support Systems (LSS). 

Research has found that ESC features – technology that helps avoid swerving, skidding, or under/oversteering – have been able to reduce single-vehicle crashes by 32% and rollovers by 82%. Similarly, the introduction of AEB in vehicles has been able to reduce rear-end injury crashes by more than 50%. 

3. Making maintenance and safety checks routine 

Organising routine maintenance and safety checks of vehicles in your company’s fleet is also a must, along with a system where workers can report vehicle issues and receive support in a timely manner.

4. Educating employees from the get-go 

While the procedures and safety measures mentioned above will help reduce the likelihood of crashes on the road, or at least their severity, the most crucial part of road safety in the workplace is education. 

With human error being a contributing factor in over 90% of crashes, educating employees about what it means to be a safer driver, major crash risk factors and how to respond in emergency events can help reduce potential mishaps on the road.  

Education can come in many forms, including internal or external training, and can occur during the onboarding process or yearly as a refresher for those who continually drive for their jobs. 

Every change towards road safety is a positive one 

At the end of the day, no matter how you choose to integrate a road safety plan into your workplace, prioritising safety and implementing road safe practices is one of the keys to good business. Doing so will not only reduce road deaths, but improve workplace relationships, worker productivity, WHS culture and make work a more enjoyable space to be in general.  

As complex and variable as road safety in the workplace may seem, it is no longer feasible to ignore the issue. Time, goods, and profit are all lost in a road crash, but the greatest loss is that of the colleagues, family and friends of the workers who never make it back home. 

Michael Fitzgibbins, CEO, Road Sense Australia Ltd will present; Drive It Home: Reducing Workplace Trauma By Improving Road Safety Culture at the Workplace Health & Safety Show Sydney. The event will take place on 23 - 24 October at Sydney Showground. Register FREE to attend here.

View all WHSS Blog


Get the inside scoop on show features, exhibitors, speaker announcements, and more!