Safety Ownership in the Australian Workplace and its Application to Road Safety
Road safety within the community can be enhanced through improvements in work-related road
safety. Recent research in the construction industry suggests that the success of safety
initiatives within an organisation may be related to the level of ownership of safety management
tasks by employees in safety critical positions. In accordance with the Workplace Health and
Safety Act 1995, duties of care to workers and third parties are shared by everyone. Therefore
ownership of work related road safety should be embraced by all members of an organisation.
This qualitative study explored whether organisational differences in safety ownership related to
safety practices and processes. Two organisations were recruited to participate in this research.
Organisation A was a ?not-for-profit? service provider that operated a fleet in excess of 200
vehicles. Organisation B was a ?for profit? service provider that operated a fleet in excess of
2,000 vehicles. Data was collected via semi-structured interviews with both male and female
employees from a range of roles and levels of seniority within each of the organisations and an
audit of work related road safety practices and processes. It was identified that organisational
practices and processes varied in relation to the position of the person primarily responsible for
managing work related road safety and that greater sharing of ownership of safety
responsibilities was associated with greater development of work related road safety practices
and processes. This paper suggests that advances in road safety can be achieved through
educating employees and managers about their Workplace Health and Safety responsibilities
and through explicitly including road safety tasks in job descriptions.