A review of the peer reviewed literature finds that there is no proven comprehensive system of safety management that can assure optimal safety outcomes for road transport.  There are some empirical studies that have indicated that certain elements of safety management in the occupational safety, aviation and other spheres have yielded good results.  Moreover, an examination of corporate safety and work related road safety initiatives enables a critical assessment of what makes these programs effective and ineffective.  Nine programs were assessed in some detail and nine additional programs were described.  The strengths and weaknesses of each were highlighted for consideration.

The corporate safety programs were grouped into four distinct types; although some programs featured characteristics of two or more types.  These types included:

  1. Standards and auditable safety management programs;
  2. Benchmarking programs;
  3. Continuous learning programs; and
  4. Codes of practice.

Programs incorporating each type, aimed to improve safety management practices through a defined process involving interaction with external agents.

The key strength of standards and auditable safety management programs, such as AS/NZS 4801 occupational safety standard, Basic Aviation Risk Standard, NHVAS and TruckSafe are that an independent audit assures that safety management systems are in place.  The disadvantage is that the administration of these programs is costly in time and money for corporate entities and they may feel that they are not getting enough value for the road safety investment.

Benchmarking programs can work well to encourage cross-corporate commitment, learning, and a collegiate approach to improving safety management. But learning from programs is often limited because of a reluctance to share performance and other information between organizations.  NETS and fleetsafetybenchmarking.net both have websites that have “members only’ data available and it tends to be general in nature.

Continuous learning programs such as the Western Australia Partnership Program and the Fleet Safety Benchmarking Workshop series provide a good mechanism for crossorganisational learning.  But these programs are rare and somewhat ad hoc.

There are a number of “codes of practice” for corporate safety management.  For example, the European Charter, National Logistics Code, and Responsible Care, have the benefit of providing advice to those who choose to adopt or adapt the practices proscribed without a cumbersome process of auditing.  The weakness is that they can be treated as ‘coffee table’ policies.  That is, organizations can pledge to become safer without doing much to achieve it.

A further weakness is that recalcitrant organizations that do nothing and have a poor road safety track record may refuse to implement a safety program.  Indeed, it is often the worst performing companies that are of greatest concern and contribute to the overall road safety problem.  Hence, any program adopted must also consider random auditing, enforcement and prosecution in instances where negligence has led to injury or death.

A critical review of safety management programs points to weaknesses that can be avoided in constructing a safety management program for advancing corporate road safety.  The strong elements extracted from the programs reviewed can be woven into a framework for a sound corporate road safety initiative.

This report explores the existing corporate safety programs with a view to identifying the best elements of these programs for further development and evaluation.