5 Work health and safety

5.1 2016‑17 highlights

We are 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 2016‑17 we focused on delivering the objectives and associated benefits of the Work Health and Safety Strategy 2015-19 (Figure 11).

Safety is one of our five strategic priorities. It underpins every activity we undertake to ensure workplaces and networks are safe and healthy for customers, workers and industry partners. Our agency is committed to strategies that reduce the road toll, boating fatalities and prevent workplace injuries and unsafe occurrences.

In 2016‑17 we continued to work closely with industry partners to deliver our Work Health and Safety (WHS) Strategy 2015-19 and address the shared risks we face as duty holders to improve safety performance across our industry. We focused on delivering systems, data and capability that drives behaviour to make informed, risk-based decisions at all levels of our organisation and across worksites.

Figure 11: Roads and Maritime's WHS Vision - driving health and safety outcomes

Safety Risk Management Program

In 2016‑17 the Safety Risk Management Program provided managers with a better understanding of the foreseeable risks with our operations and the opportunities to enhance the effectiveness of risk controls. Employees were given access to a user‑friendly version of the agency's risk register. Industry partners were also able to access it on request to make better informed risk‑based decisions.

We continued to encourage hazard and near-miss reporting. Since July 2016, a total of 3,890 hazard and near‑miss reports were received into our safety reporting system. These accounted for more than 67 per cent of total reports received. This information enables our managers to make risk‑based decisions before harm occurs.

Safety investigations, assurance and continuous improvement

Safety assurance provides confidence that safety risks, processes and behaviours are managed and controlled to acceptable levels through appropriate measures that identify potential threats to safety. Our Safety Assurance Program enables managers to ask the right questions to obtain the level of assurance appropriate to the safety risk profile.

In 2016‑17 assurance activities focused on strengthening our safety investigation processes and capability to better understand risks and learn from significant hazards, near misses and incidents. This enabled the agency to target investment in system improvements that eliminate or more effectively control safety risks.

During the year, the OneRMS safety change risk management process was applied on several projects. For example, the Pacific Highway Project Office used this process to ensure changes designed to improve the customer experience through roadwork zones would not introduce new hazards.

OneRMS safety management system

In 2016‑17 we implemented an improved, OneRMS safety management system (OneRMS SMS). The system describes our agency's arrangements for managing WHS. It outlines standards to drive best practice and provides a consistent approach to the way we manage WHS risks in partnership with industry.

The six key elements that drive the OneRMS SMS are shown in Figure 12 below. Consultation, cooperation and coordination within our teams are integral to all elements.

Figure 12: OneRMS safety management system overview

Working Near Traffic Program

Working near traffic is a key work health and safety risk. This program continued to emphasise the policy objective of seeking to eliminate before minimising safety risk, to both workers and road users, as much as possible. The benefits of this approach include:

  • improved safety

  • improved productivity

  • improved efficiency and quality

  • less overall disruption to road users and the community.

Our agency played a leadership role, partnering with industry, to work towards a nationally consistent approach for how to manage the risks of working near traffic. This included hosting a series of collaboration forums over the course of 2016‑17.

Regional NSW

In 2016‑17 our agency eliminated the risks of working near traffic multiple times by consolidating and undertaking planned maintenance work as part of more than one hundred road possessions on the regional road network. This is where we closed the road and detoured traffic away from the roadwork zone in consultation with impacted stakeholders.

We maintain a documented schedule of the road possessions for planned maintenance works. This schedule provides industry and the community advanced notice of our activities. Keeping local residents, local councils, contractors and other stakeholders informed has been key to the success of road maintenance activities. These activities enabled multiple tasks such as road resurfacing, vegetation clearing and rock removal to be undertaken simultaneously during the course of a road closure, reducing the time required for the work to be done as well as reducing traffic interruption and risk.

Metropolitan NSW

To maintain the metropolitan networks, we collaborated with maintenance partners Ventia Boral Amey Joint Venture, Downer EDI, Downer Mouchel and the Transport Management Centre to ensure safety when undertaking works throughout Sydney. For example, collaborative planning produced the first planned arterial road closure on Southern Cross Drive in Sydney for maintenance work. Over 42 nights, traffic was eliminated from the worksite via southbound carriageway closures and detours. This provided a safer workplace for more than 100 workers who removed and replaced asphalt and completed kerb and gutter repairs, tree trimming and line marking. Removing all traffic from the worksite enabled the work to be completed in a shorter period, reducing the need for lengthy road closures.

Improving the health, wellbeing and leadership capability of our people

People are at the heart of what we do and we continue to invest in our people's health, wellbeing and safety leadership capability. This is so they are fit and able to fulfil our delivery commitments and return home safely each day. During 2016‑17, numerous health and wellbeing initiatives were delivered across the state including health fairs, access to fitness programs and a flu vaccination program.

We delivered training programs to better equip our people to have meaningful conversations about safety issues, produce better safety investigation outcomes and apply the drug and alcohol procedure.

Roads and Maritime takes heavy vehicle chain of responsibility obligations very seriously. These responsibilities include awareness of the ‘stop, revive and survive' campaign, heavy vehicle speed limits and the approved size and mass of heavy vehicles. The agency developed a heavy vehicle chain of responsibility e-learning training package and more than 2,100 employees undertook this training during 2016‑17.

5.2 Work, health and safety performance

In 2016‑17 we achieved the following results for two key safety performance indicators:

  • total recordable injury frequency rate reduced by 0.89 injuries per million hours worked
  • hazard and occurrence reporting has increased by 25.6 average reports per month.
Table 11: Work health and safety performance 2012-17
Performance indicator Financial year
2012‑13 2013‑14 2014‑15 2015‑16 2016‑1730
Near misses and hazards reported 2,390 1,843 2,380 3,742 3,890
Total recordable injuries (includes lost time31 and medical treatment injuries)32 n/a n/a n/a 163 150
Other occurrences reported (including asset or property damage) 742 643 789 875 1,038
Total occurrences reported (including hazards) 4,251 3,545 4,034 5,498 5,805
Number of near misses per injury 2.1 1.74 2.75 4.25 4.44
Compensable workplace injuries33 391 385 292 245 252
Total claims costs ($ million)33 3.6 5.9 4.3 3.1 2.0
  1. Roads and Maritime safety data is for 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017.
  2. Lost time injuries were previously reported as a separate indicator until 2015‑16 financial year where it was combined with medical treatment injuries.
  3. Roads and Maritime introduced total recordable injury frequency rate as a WHS performance indicator in July 2015. This includes lost time and medical treatment.
  4. Workers have up to six years to log a workers compensation claim so there is often a lag time for previous year attributions on each annual recalculation. Figures in the table for previous years have been adjusted to account for this based on the 2015‑16 Annual Report.


Roads and Maritime was not defendant to any prosecutions either commencing or continuing under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 during 2016‑17.

Collaboration with industry partners

Throughout 2016‑17 we continued to collaborate with industry partners about better practice management of our key safety risks.

During July to September 2016, we arranged a strategic conversation series that established an agreed strategic intent across industry, Austroads and the road agencies in Queensland and Victoria. We agreed to collaborate to transform what we do on our roads so that the interaction between road users and worksites is safe and efficient for everyone.

The agency shares health and safety risk information with local councils, such as how specialist risk management techniques and contemporary best practice are used to inform the development of a comprehensive fatigue management regime.

Through ‘Project SafeR', safety risk data received from our industry partners was analysed to produce the safety risk profile across road construction projects. This information was shared with industry.

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