Safety Management Systems – the smart move for businesses

Implementing a Safety Management System (SMS) to better manage the safety of your operations is a great way to attract new business and ensure you remain compliant with heavy vehicle safety laws.

The benefits of an SMS to the safety of your people and the people you do business with, are immeasurable. Last year, the NHVR conducted a Heavy Vehicle Industry Safety Survey, with topics including safety risk management, safety assurance, safety promotion and training, and frequency and review of safety practices.

Almost 4,000 stakeholders provided responses and insights as part of the survey, leading to the NHVR implementing and enhancing its safety programs and initiatives – including our SMS toolkit.

Pleasingly, the survey revealed almost two-thirds of industry have a basic SMS in place, however, the number of drivers aware their company had an SMS was only 50 per cent.

To improve this outcome, we have overhauled our suite of Safety Management System material to focus on providing tools to operators to make SMS part of day-today business and help encourage important safety conversations with staff and customers.

The NHVR’s 9-step SMS Roadmap released in August, can be accessed via a user-friendly web page on our website.

It’s free and will help to make workplaces and people safe and secure – no matter what role you play in the Chain. The Roadmap provides a step-by-step process that is scalable to business size.

It provides targeted advice based on whether your company is just starting out SMS development, needs to add elements to an existing approach, or requires greater effectiveness from an already documented system.

We know the Covid toolbox talk kit we produced to help freight operators reduce the spread of Coronavirus and manage mental health of freight workers was useful for industry and we have ensured there are a number of tool box talks just like this in our Roadmap.

You’ll also find detailed steps to implement necessary organisational structures, accountabilities, policies and procedures.

As part of the current review of heavy vehicle laws, the NHVR is advocating for a risk-based national assurance safety framework, underpinned by operators using a scalable SMS.

The framework needs to encourage and empower industry investment in safety, by providing flexibility for those operators that demonstrate improved safety practices.

In the meantime, the NHVR is continuously working to ensure the best advice, tools, resources and management systems are available online, and our safety systems and stakeholder engagement teams regularly speak with organisations to assist them with developing an SMS.

As Australia’s heavy vehicle industry grows, I encourage everyone to take some time to either review your existing SMS, or to put one in place.

After all, the safety of your staff and services are the highest priority. For information on the NHVR’s SMS, including quick guides, templates, worked examples and toolbox talks, head to

Sal Petroccitto, NHVR CEO.

Sal Petroccitto


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