Implementing road safety management

Tim Sparey BSI Tutor Delivery Manager and Janine Behrens Senior Global Portfolio Manager, Risk at BSI discuss the benefits of implementing road traffic safety management systems and reducing road risk

Road safety management is a concern not just for businesses and organisations who need to ensure that it is part of their workplace occupational safety strategies, but a factor for government policy makers to consider in keeping the public safe. If we look at just the work-related motor vehicle accidents, we see that a large number of deaths and long-term injuries in the workplace are associated with driving. Employers can help prevent these incidents by implementing a Road Traffic Safety (RTS) program using standards such as the BS ISO 39001 Road Traffic Safety Management System standard, or its ‘sister’ standard the generic safety management system BS OHSAS 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Management. Not only does this make an important societal contribution to road safety, it helps reduce the substantial costs associated with their own road crashes.

Consequently a tighter RTS strategy is at the forefront of many business agendas particularly if they are heavily involved in this sphere. Punitive measures are not unheard of and this can act as a deterrent toward those who have more relaxed strategies in place. Although measures are put in place to protect workers, they are also intended to safeguard members of the public coming into contact with that environment.

BS ISO 39001 specifically provides focussed requirements and guidance into what is a very broad area of road traffic safety (which has and still is covered by BS OHSAS 18001). An important, achieved objective was to align the standard requirements and guidance with the good practice road safety management system models used internationally in objectives, processes and key terminology.

The key features of the standard involve adoption of the long-term Safe System goal to eliminate death and serious injury supported by interim, quantitative targets and the duty of consideration of a range of key road safety performance factors. The standard also highlights the importance of senior management leadership and sets out a range of key top management responsibilities and accountabilities and adopts the range of institutional management functions considered important for the continual improvement of road safety.

It allows any road user group to access guidance and implement controls to help design their own road traffic safety framework. Together with the ISO family of management systems and alongside BS OHSAS 18001, BS ISO 39001 offers an in-depth approach to implementing the outlined protocols in a targeted and more detailed manner. It is designed to help an organisation focus on its RTS objectives and targets and guides the planning of RTS activities as follows:

The standard requires organisations to follow a Plan-Do-Check-Act methodology and a process that reviews its current road safety performance, determines the risks and opportunities, selects road safety performance factors to work on, analyses what it can achieve over time and sets appropriate road safety objectives, targets and plans to achieve them.

Guidance on the standard can be found outlined clearly in Annexes A and B. The former focuses on providing key guidance on the implementation of the standard and is an informative piece of documentation with clear interpretations of Clauses 4-10 of the standard. Ultimately, establishing the RTS using BS ISO 39001 results in improved RTS performance which can be achieved using an internationally recognised ‘Safe System’ approach to managing RTS. This strategy places the emphasis on organisations to focus on RTS results with an aim to improve them beyond just legal compliance. Countries that are already using this approach which is promoted by the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the OECD, and adopting this into their RTS programmes include Sweden, the Netherlands, New Zealand and some parts of Australia.

Annex B emphasises the importance of the ‘Safe System’ and sees it as fundamental to the successful adoption of the standard. This approach aims to develop a road traffic system that can better accommodate everyday human error and known human tolerance to injury thresholds. It aligns safety management systems decision-making with societal decision-making and incorporates many strategies for better management of crash forces with a key system-wide strategy of improvements in the road network, vehicles, the emergency medical system and user behaviour. Other key benefits of Annex B are that it not only describes categories of RTS results, it elaborates on good practice RTS management frameworks.

As many businesses currently use BS OHSAS 18001, integration of BS ISO 39001 is a key element of using both standard standards in tandem. The National Annex pages of BS ISO 39001 make provision and offer guidance on how this can happen and defines the correlations between them. The 2 standards synchronise on management commitment, resource management, competency evaluation, performance monitoring and measurement, continual improvement and the implementation of improvement actions.

They require also require documentation to be in place to ensure a consistent approach to health and safety management and to provide evidence of the effectiveness of the system. Documentation requirements of BS OHSAS 18001 and of BS ISO 39001 is similar in terms of the need for policies, procedures and records, therefore, many organisations will be able to effectively link existing health and safety documentation with their road safety management system, as outlined in the aforementioned National Annex of BS ISO 39001.

Ultimately adopting BS ISO 39001 alongside BS OHSAS 18001 allows an organisation to link health and safety and road safety as a holistic management system approach in much greater depth.


Tim Sparey

Tutor Delivery Manager

Janine Behrens

Senior Global Portfolio Manager, Risk



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