Real-life examples of ISO 45001 implementation in the road transport industry

In 2014, 8.5% of the United States’ gross domestic product consisted of transport, with road haulage making up a large percentage of this figure. Given how vital this industry is, and with the potential risk to both employees and the wider population when incidents occur, ISO 45001:2018 is an increasingly important element being used to try and mitigate risk to ensure products are delivered safely throughout the country as required. The specific considerations within this industry came to mind when I assisted a road haulage company with a recent ISO 45001 implementation, so what exactly does a company in this sector need to consider?

Road Transport sector: What to consider

Implementing ISO 45001 in this industry requires an organization to make the same considerations as in any other sector, such as establishing a Health and Safety Policy within a working OHSMS (Operational Health & Safety Management System) that captures legislation, risk assessment, internal audit, and all the other key elements of the standard itself. What differentiates the road transport industry from other sectors is the identification of hazards and risk, and how these are dealt with to prevent incidents. In the case of an incident occurring, the consequences can be great, and therefore any corrective action procedures also need to be accurate, effective, and concise. So, how do you go about building your OHSMS for your road transport company?

Building your OHSMS one piece at a time

To successfully build an OHSMS for your road transport, you must fulfill all the clauses of the standard, but the following may prove most critical to your performance:

  • Establish your OH&S Policy: This sits at the top of your system, and ensuring it is accurate, concise, and understood by your employees as well as meeting the terms of ISO 45001 is critical to the OH&S objectives of your organization. For more details on how to achieve this, please see How to write an OH&S Policy.
  • Ensure you meet legislation: This is critical in the transport sector. Ensure you are totally up to date with all relevant law – hours that your drivers can work, loads permissible to be carried, regulations specific to your loads in different regions or countries, regulations over your vehicles. Understand and train your employees and drivers how to safely load and unload product, and ensure that approved processes are established for the correct loading of vehicles. Ensure speed limiting software exists on your vehicles that complies with regional laws and that your drivers are correctly trained. Assess and re-evaluate training needs for your employees based on incidents, accidents, and identified hazards to ensure continual improvement. Ensuring legislation is met, recorded, and kept up to date on your OHSMS can be time consuming, but ultimately vital to your OH&S performance and avoiding breaking the law, which results in stiff penalties.
  • Show leadership, and use consultation for good results: In the previous article How to demonstrate leadership according to ISO/DIS 45001, we examined how leading effectively can set the tone for an excellent culture of health and safety, and consulting your workforce openly and effectively is a large part of this in the transport sector. Use the knowledge and experience your team has to ensure that all possible precautions are being taken to meet the OH&S objectives, and that experience can be a great assistance in identifying risks and hazards.
  • Risk and hazard identification: This is the key to any effective OHSMS, but particularly important in the road transport industry in particular, and the greater transport industry as a whole. Ensure you have an easily understandable hazard identification and risk assessment process. Utilize all the tools you have at hand to ensure that you cover as many risks and potential hazards as possible: consult with experienced staff, use online tools to gain relevant advice, exchange information with other organizations in your sector, and consider using a consultant who specializes in the road transport sector if you deem it necessary. A modest upfront cost can prevent a larger cost later should an incident or accident occur because of insufficient planning. The article How to identify and classify OH&S hazards can assist you with this topic.

So, if these topics are given particular attention it should help us deliver effective OH&S within our road transport company. But, is there anything else that can help?

Special issues to consider

As ever, an OHSMS is only as good as your ability to identify and mitigate risk, and this is especially relevant in the road transport business. Concentrate as much time and resources as possible on your identification of risks and hazards and your compliance with law and legislation, and your results will reflect that. Plan preventive maintenance programs for your vehicles and consult your staff at all times; they are your first line in mitigating risk, as they see the day-to-day problems that other OHSMS workers may not. Use employee experience, consultation, and effective leadership to identify hazards, and your risk of failing to meet objectives will fall accordingly.

Use our free  Gap Analysis Tool to measure your organization against the ISO 45001 standard.

Advisera John Nolan
John Nolan
John Nolan is a Fellow of the Institute of Leaders and Managers in the United Kingdom, and Prince 2 accredited with a background in Engineering and Electronics and Data Storage and Transfer. Having studied and qualified as both a Mechanical and Electronic Engineer, he has spent the last 15 years designing and delivering Quality Systems and projects across many sectors in the UK, including both national and local government.