How to develop a Safety Management System

A critical part of meeting safety requirements for a booking service is developing and using a Safety Management System, customised to your business.

Authorised on-demand booking services (ODBSs) are required to develop a Safety Management System to help ensure the safety of drivers, passengers and the public. Read this page for information about how to develop your Safety Management System.

  What is a Safety Management System?

A Safety Management System is a set of policies, procedures and plans that systematically manage health and safety by identifying safety risks and putting in place steps to mitigate them.

A Safety Management System must:

  • identify foreseeable hazards and assess the level of risk associated with each hazard;
  • outline procedures to eliminate or minimise the hazards/risks identified; 
  • be documented in writing and readily accessible by people who need to use it; and
  • be regularly reviewed, evaluated and updated.

The Safety Management System should match the services an ODBS provides – smaller ODBSs may have less detailed Safety Management Systems than larger ones.

Developing your Safety Management System

Your Safety Management System must be a written document that can be easily accessed by everyone involved in your business – Responsible Officers, affiliated drivers, staff, and contractors.

The six steps to develop a Safety Management System are:

  1. Identify your hazards.
  2. Assess the level of risk associated with each hazard.
  3. Write procedures to respond to your hazards and risks.
  4. Train drivers and staff in effective communications and safe behaviours.
  5. Manage and record incidents and complaints.   
  6. Review and update your Safety Management System regularly.

Your Safety Management System should address the following hazards:

  • fatigue;
  • assault;
  • driver distraction;
  • driver competency;
  • vehicle mechanical failure;
  • passenger safety;
  • misuse of camera recordings; and
  • other foreseeable hazards.

The Department of Transport (DoT) has developed A guide to developing your Safety Management System (below). This document:

  • explains the key elements of a Safety Management System (including the six steps outlined above); 
  • helps you identify all foreseeable hazards and assess the level of risk each one has; and 
  • provides guidance around procedures and policies to effectively address your hazards. 

We have also developed a range of case studies (below), where you can see the Guide put into practice for several different types of ODBSs. 

Please note: The Guide and Case Studies represent provide detailed examples of Safety Management Systems, however we recognise that all ODBSs may not require this level of detail in their own Safety Management System.

ODBS Audit Checklist

The Department of Transport regularly conducts audits of ODBSs, to ensure service providers are meeting their legal obligations. 

To help you prepare for an audit, the Department of Transport will give you a copy of the Audit Checklist. The Audit Checklist outlines your responsibilities for all areas that will be assessed when your ODBS undergoes an audit, including: 

  • authorisation;
  • Safety Management System;
  • vehicle and driver safety standards;
  • complaints resolution process;
  • advertising;
  • fares; and
  • record keeping.

Tip: Refer to the Audit Checklist when developing your Safety Management System to help ensure that your Safety Management System meets your legal obligations.

Read more about audits on the Education and Compliance webpage.

A range of accompanying checklists (below) include:

  • Driver sampling;
  • Records sampling;
  • Vehicle sampling OD-C (charter);
  • Vehicle sampling OD-RH (taxi); and
  • Vehicle sampling supplementary WAV.

DoT has developed sample resources based on the audit checklist, which ODBSs can adapt for their own business purposes to assist in meeting their responsibilities – check these out further down the page.

Please note, these resources are provided as a guide only and may or may not be sufficient to address the needs of a specific business. Further resources will be added over time.

Example Safety Mangement Systems

There are also many helpful resources online to assist on-demand booking services to understand and develop a suitable Safety Management System.

For example, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority website (below) provides templates which can be adapted to an on-demand transport context. 

The NSW Roads and Maritime Services ’Safety Management System Guidelines’ (below) provides useful content and resources, particularly for bus operators.

NSW Roads and Maritime Services: BOAS Safety Management System Guidelines - Appendix 5
Australia Maritime Safety Authority: safety management system templates
Page last updated: Fri Oct 27 2023 9:36:25 AM