Work health and safety

6.1 Work health and safety

Roads and Maritime is leading better practice in work health and safety in partnership with industry. Our vision is to create a workplace where everyone goes home safe and healthy every day.

In 2015-16 we focused on delivering the objectives and associated benefits of the Work Health and Safety Strategy 2015-19 (PDF, 2.9mb). We worked closely with industry partners to address the shared risks we face as duty holders.

Safety is one of our five strategic priorities and underpins every activity we undertake. We will work to reduce the road toll, boating fatalities and workplace occurrences. We will ensure our workplaces and networks are safe and healthy for our customers, workers and industry partners through:

Roads and Maritime’s Work Health and Safety Vision: through good planning and design, collaboration, implementing contemporary safety management systems, effective safety risk management, robust change management, assurances and investigations, Roads and Maritime aims to create a workplace where everyone goes home safe and healthy every day.

6.2 Highlights of Roads and Maritime 2015-16 work health and safety

The Safety Risk Management Program

Our Safety Risk Management Program provided our managers with a better understanding of the foreseeable risks associated with our operations. In addition, a full review of our high-risk 'hazardous events' and their controls was completed. These reviews allow managers to target their investment in improving risk controls.

Safety assurance

Safety assurance is about providing confidence that safety risks, processes and behaviours are managed and controlled to acceptable levels through appropriate measures that identify potential threats to safety.

Roads and Maritime has a duty to seek assurance about how safety risks are managed. The safety assurance program enables managers to ask the right questions to obtain the level of assurance appropriate to the safety risk profile of our operations.

In 2015-16 the first phase of assurance activities focused on Roads and Maritime's three highest-risk activities - working near traffic, working with mobile plant and working near utilities.

Working Near Traffic Program

Working near traffic is one of our key work health and safety risks and this program has continued to emphasise our policy objective of seeking to eliminate safety risk, both to workers and road users, as much as possible before seeking to minimise it; 'elimination before minimisation'.

We now seek to close roads to traffic to carry out maintenance campaigns as our first option wherever it is feasible. The benefits of this approach include improved safety, productivity, efficiency, quality and less overall disruption to road users and the community.

In 2015-16 we delivered maintenance campaigns under planned road possessions on sections of the Hume Highway, the Great Western Highway, the M1 Pacific Motorway, Mount Ousley Road and several other locations across the network. Our Southern Region maintenance operation has published a road possession schedule and continues to work with the community and keep them informed well in advance.

We have taken a leadership role, in partnership with industry, to work towards a nationally consistent approach for how to manage this risk.

Roads and Maritime Safety Management System

In 2015-16 we consulted widely with workers and industry partners on the design of the OneRMS Safety Management System.

The system is designed to promote contemporary better practice and to achieve consistency within the agency and alignment with industry partners. This will set a consistently high standard of work health and safety. The system sets out principles and guidance on how we, in collaboration with our industry partners, will continue to manage risk more effectively.

Work health and safety key performance measures

Reporting hazards and occurrences (incidents) is a critical part of eliminating risk in the future. We had a 57 per cent increase in hazard and occurrence reporting during 2015-16. There was a 29 per cent increase in reporting from industry partners.

Table 7: Work health and safety performance 2012-2016
Financial year
Performance indicator 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16
Near misses and hazards reported 2,390 1,843 2,380 3,742
Lost time injuries 160 155 101 62
All other injuries (including first aid and no treatment) 959 904 764 819
Other occurrences reported (including asset or property damage) 742 643 789 875
Total occurrences reported (including hazards) 4,251 3,545 4,034 5,498
Number of near misses per injury 2.1 1.74 2.75 4.25
Compensable workplace injuries 327 315 228 196
Total claims costs ($ million) 2.15 2.03 2.15 1.64

Since 2014-15 there has been a significant reduction in the rate of recordable injuries:


Roads and Maritime was not a party to any prosecutions either commencing or continuing under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 during 2015-16.

Collaboration with industry, regulators and our stakeholders for safer networks

The collaboration program included Roads and Maritime's Chief Executive hosting roundtable forums with 38 chief executives and leaders from industry, regulators, maritime and freight associations as well as enforcement agencies. These forums were designed to further strengthen collaboration between Roads and Maritime and industry to achieve our common health and safety objectives. Commitments were made to collaborate and share safety information, seek assurance about risk control effectiveness, build safety culture through leader-led initiatives, and leverage technology for safety in design. We continue to collaborate with a wide range of partners to achieve consistent and better safety practice through a range of safety improvement programs and forums.

Case study

New solutions

McFarlane heritage bridge maintenance

McFarlane Bridge was built in 1906 and plays a key role in connecting the communities of Maclean, Woodford Island and Lawrence, as well as offering an alternative route to the Pacific Highway between Maclean and Grafton.

The bridge has significant state and local heritage value as one of only three metal bascule-type bridges remaining in NSW that uses a rolling counterweight. The massive counterweight rolls down a curved track to balance the span when the bridge platform is raised to allow boats to pass.

McFarlane Bridge needed major restoration work, including the removal of lead paint on the bridge's central tower, which was to be sandblasted and repainted.

After consulting with the local community, it was clear they wanted the bridge closed as little as possible while the work was carried out.

When it came to sandblasting and repainting the tower, Roads and Maritime decided to remove the whole structure and take it to nearby Ashby Ferry dry dock, which has a containment shed.

The tower was removed by crane and loaded onto a modified ferry for transport to Ashby, where it was disassembled for sandblasting then reassembled and repainted. This work was undertaken at ground level to eliminate the risk to workers of working at height, and without the risk of working over water or near traffic.

To allow traffic to continue to use the bridge while that work was going on, two temporary large steel girders were constructed to take the weight of the bridge while the tower structure was absent. These two strategies meant traffic could continue to use the bridge with minimum interruption and eliminated several safety risks for maintenance teams.

Download PDF for printing


You are using an unsupported browser

Roads and Maritime Services are aware that visitors will use a diverse variety of operating systems and browsers to access this site.

While we want every visitor to have the best possible experience on our Web site, we recognise that it is impossible to develop applications and sites that work identically, efficiently, and effectively with all browsers.

Please upgrade your browser.