Fact sheet: Workplace road safety

In 2018, 62% of all reported work-related fatalities related to vehicles.

  • 144 total fatalities reported as a result of injuries sustained in the course of work related activity
  • 44 were the result of vehicle collisions and 45 were related to vehicles in another way1

Vehicle use in road traffic is the most significant contributor to work-related traumatic injury. Workplace road crashes are a major, largely not costed, issue for businesses and governments.

It is not always recorded (or reported) in jurisdictional crash reports that a vehicle was being used for work at the time of the crash. However there is increasing recognition that road safety is an important part of worker safety and is the responsibility of both workers and employers.

Contributing factors

One problematic area of driving for work often neglected in risk and safety management is the so-called ‘Grey Fleet’.

The Grey Fleet are personal vehicles used for work purposes and owned by the driver (or another entity), rather than being directly provided by the organisation employing that driver. The employer does not have oversight of the condition or safety of the vehicle.

Vehicle use in road traffic is by far the most significant contributor to work-related traumatic injury2.

A number of contributing factors have been identified, such as: 

  • inadequate journey planning
  • roads providing inadequate protection
  • vehicles providing inadequate protection
  • unauthorised drivers
  • unsafe drivers/vehicles
  • the absence, or incorrect use of, personal protective equipment
  • inadequate post-incident response3.

Road safety and workplace safety—road safety as business as usual

Under WHS laws, businesses are required to ensure the health and safety of workers and third parties so far as is reasonably practicable, including risks associated with using vehicles for work or working near road traffic. The Vehicles as a Workplace: Work Health Safety Guide in 2019, endorsed by the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities, is designed for organisations and individuals who use vehicles for work purposes on the road networks of Australia or New Zealand.

Data collected by companies with road risk management systems have demonstrated the significant potential in terms of the safety benefits and what cost savings can be achieved. The National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP) supports Australian businesses in developing road safety culture and initiatives.

Increasing the safety of the vehicles being used by employees is one way to improve workplace safety. This can be achieved by adopting ANCAP's light-vehicle fleet safety recommendation to only choose 5-star rated vehicles. There are also possible positive flow on effects for road safety by improving the overall safety of the wider used car fleet when these vehicles are sold on.

The Construction Logistics and Community Safety Australia (CLOCS-A) initiative provides a standard for construction and road transport sectors to ensure the safety of the community, particularly vulnerable road users, during infrastructure development which generate large volumes of construction deliveries and heavy vehicle movements in local communities.

CLOCS-A is based on the program introduced by Transport for London which has seen improvements to community road safety in the UK.  Similar approaches have been adopted by major infrastructure projects in NSW and Victoria providing improvements to community road safety in these jurisdictions. Adopting such standards has the potential to minimise risks and impacts to local communities as well as drive long-term road safety improvements.

Workplace road safety is also related to the road as a workplace. Many jobs require workers to be on or near the road in order to do their job. Roles in areas such as policing, road and footpath construction, traffic management, tree lopping and cutting, landscaping and garden maintenance, utilities infrastructure repair and maintenance, require workers to not only focus on the work they are performing, but have regard to the road and traffic movements around them—over which they have little control. Under WHS laws, businesses are required to manage the risks to workers and third parties associated with working around traffic. Safe Work Australia has published practical guidance on managing these risks. 

1 Safe Work Australia Work-related traumatic injury fatalities, Australia 2018

2 Austroads and Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities, Vehicles as a Workplace: Work Health & Safety Guide, 2019

3 Austroads (2018) Vehicles as Workplace, Research Report AP-R561-18