ISO 39001: Management systems for road safety. Requirements and recommendations for good practice

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Road Safety (RS), a global concern.

It is estimated that every year on roads around the world, 1.3 million people die and 20 to 50 million are injured. What’s worse is that this figure is increasing. We cannot put a price on the costs to society, both in human and economic terms. Although the application of political awareness and the tightening of sanctions has been successful in reducing the traditionally predominant factors (alcohol, speed, weekend, youths), road accidents at work has increased.

Global experience shows that large reductions in deaths and serious injuries are achieved by a holistic safety approach [1] in road safety, that is to say, taking into account all the parties, their interactions and interdependencies. This implies a clear and unequivocal focus on the results of RS. However, governments cannot alone achieve these reductions.

ISO 39001: In any organization.

Organizations of all types and sizes, as well as individual users, have a role to play. The UNE-ISO 39001 standard is configured as a very useful tool for achieving a noticeable improvement in road safety management in any organization. Although interest in its implantation would seem logical by companies that deal with freight or passengers, its implementation is also considered highly necessary for any company that uses vehicles and roads to carry out their activities, or companies in which workers are users of public roads with or without vehicles (trade, mail, cleaning, infrastructure maintenance, etc..).

Beyond the Prevention of Occupational Risks. 

The management system proposed by this international standard provides a tool to help organizations reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the incidence and risk of deaths and serious injuries resulting from traffic accidents. It identifies elements of good practice, focuses on the goals and objectives of RS, and directs planning activities to achieve them.

This rule, in its scope goes beyond the prevention of occupational risks, as it includes the interactions that occur throughout the road system (public roads, vehicles, users and emergency medical services), rather than restricting it to just the workplace in what could affect the workers.

Implementation of the standard.

The RS management system is based on PDCA [2] methodology (Plan-Do-Check-Act), which is a cyclic process that requires strong leadership and commitment from senior management.

1.  Schedule.

  • The impact that the organization can have on RS is identified.
  • The commitment of senior management is established. Resources and roles are assigned. RS policies are documented and communicated.
  • Risks and opportunities are identified. The most relevant indicators are identified. Goals and objectives are established.

2.  Do.

  • The Road Safety system is implemented.

3.  Check.

  • Road safety performance is monitored and evaluated. Periodic internal audits and system reviews are carried out to identify opportunities for continuous improvement.

4.  Act.

  • The management system is continuously improved by means of an evaluation of RS performance through a comparison with the objectives and goals, deficiencies and non-conformities, and identification of corrective and preventive action opportunities that seek to reduce the incidence and the risk of death and serious injuries resulting from traffic accidents.

Performance factors

The organization shall identify performance factors in RS, which can be classified into the following groups:

a) Risk exposure factors. For example, distances travelled, traffic volume, etc.

b) RS final factor results. For example the number of deaths or serious injuries.

b) RS intermediate factor results.

  1. For example road design and safe speed.
  2. Using appropriate routes depending on the vehicle type, user, load, etc.
  3. Use of personal safety equipment: belts, helmets, systems to see and be seen, etc.
  4. Safe driving speed taking into account the type of vehicle, traffic and weather conditions.
  5. The drivers condition (with respect to fatigue, distractions, alcohol, drugs).
  6. Vehicle safety.
  7. Personal driving authorisation that is appropriate to the type of vehicle.
  8. Withdrawal of unfit vehicles and drivers.
  9. After the accident response and first aid, emergency training, post-accident rehabilitation, etc.

In addition, the organization should develop additional performance factors when what is provided in the standard does not have enough importance.

Road Safety Simulator

Good practices

Some interesting links for consulting resources and best practices in road safety:

Integration with other management systems.

Road safety management based on UNE-ISO 39001 can be integrated into, or be compatible with other management systems such as ISO9001, ISO14001, OHSAS 18001, etc., given that its structure is perfectly compatible.

Other interests for implementation.

Although the main objectives of the implementation of the RS management system in an organization are to eliminate or reduce the incidence and risk of deaths and serious injuries resulting from accidents, not only for workers, but also to protect other users of  public highways, other considerable benefits should be considered.

For example, reductions in social security contributions by implementing mobility plans provided for in Royal Decree 404/2010, approving the establishment of a system of reduction for contributions that are regulated by professional contingencies to companies that have especially contributed to the reduction and prevention of workplace accidents.

[1] Holism postulates that systems (whether physical, biological, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) and their properties should be analysed as a whole and not through the component parts, considering these separately.

[2] PDCA Methodology (Plan-Do-Check-Act)



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