Understanding our risks

Roads and Maritime manages risk by seeking to eliminate risks before minimising them. Our focus is on understanding our risks and the effectiveness of our risk controls in order to improve safety performance and deliver better solutions.

WHS risk management framework and process

Risk management is a systematic process that ensures work health and safety (WHS) risks are regularly identified, assessed, controlled and reviewed. Through this process we drive improvement in how we manage health and safety risk within Roads and Maritime, as well as for industry partners and  customers.

The WHS risk management framework describes our approach to managing foreseeable hazarads and risks, so far as is reasonably practicable.

The WHS risk management process is outlined in the WHS risk management procedure.

So far as is reasonably practicable

Under WHS legislation, Roads and Maritime is considered to be a 'person conducting a business or undertaking' (PCBU) with obligations to eliminate risks to health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable. Where it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate risks to health and safety, we must minimise those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

This includes justifying why actions taken to manage particular risks are sufficient, and providing evidence to justify why higher level risk controls would not be reasonably practicable. Roads and Maritime has developed the SFAIRP determination guide and template to analyse hazards and determine whether risks have been eliminated or minimised so far as is reasonably practicable.

Deciding what is 'reasonably practicable' under a given circumstance to protect people from harm requires taking into account and weighing up all relevant matters, including:

  • The likelihood of the hazard or risk concerned occurring
  • The degree of harm that might result from the hazard or risk
  • What the PCBU concerned knows, or ought to reasonably know, about the hazard or risk and ways of eliminating or minimising the risk
  • The availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk
  • The cost associated with available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, including whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to the risk.

For further information see the:

Hierarchy of controls – elimination before minimisation

The hierarchy of controls is an important concept for the selection and prioritisation of controls. It is based on the principle that it is more effective to eliminate a hazard than to manage (minimise) the risks associated with the hazard. We manage risk most effectively through early intervention via planning and design processes.

Where it is not reasonably practicable to eliminate a risk, controls to reduce the consequences or likelihood of the risk are considered and implemented, using the hierarchy of controls.

Our approach to applying the hierarchy of controls is detailed in the WHS risk management procedure.

Diagram illustraing the hierarchy of controls: eliminate, substitute, isolate, engineer, training, PPE

WHS risk management activities

The successful management of risk is achieved through a number of interconnected management processes within Roads and Maritime. We undertake a number of activities to identify hazards and to assess, control (or treat) and monitor safety risks so far as is reasonably practicable, and to exercise due diligence in managing those risks.

This includes applying risk management standards, establishing procedures, tools and guides, allocating responsibilities and resources to manage risks, and monitoring and reviewing controls and their effectiveness. These management processes are described in the figure below:

Diagrammatic representation of the WHS risk management activities described on this page, shown as interlocking jigsaw pieces.

Further information about these activities are detailed in the WHS risk management framework.

Risk registers

Risk registers contain key WHS risk management information. Registration is the primary method of recording and monitoring identified hazards and risks. Roads and Maritime risk registers provide a record of hazardous events and contributing factors likely to result in a foreseeable risk for operations and projects.

The Agency Safety Risk Register (ASRR) is central to OneRMS SMS and represents the main source of WHS risk information for the agency as a whole. The ASRR can facilitate strategic decision-making, by highlighting risks, controls and risk ratings for each hazardous event. The ASRR can be used to derive divisional level safety risk profiles or to inform branch or project-specific risk assessments. The ASRR is available to external parties on request.

See WHS risk management framework for more information on the ASRR.

Hazardous events

A hazardous event is an undesired or unplanned event that results in loss or damage and has the potential for an adverse outcome. The Agency Safety Risk Register (ASRR) contains a list of hazardous events and risk ratings based on current risk information.

The ASRR provides an overview of all hazardous events for the purpose of understanding the agency’s overall risk profile. There are more than 50 hazardous events identified from within our operations that have been defined and assessed for the information of Roads and Maritime workers, our supply chain and where appropriate, our customers.

Roads and Maritime undertakes risk analysis and risk modelling to better understand and manage our WHS risks and their contributing factors and consequences. One of these activities is bow-tie analysis, a valuable tool used to focus on a specific hazardous event in detail. Bow-tie diagrams form part of the ASRR.

Bow-tie diagrams

Bow-tie analysis is a simple diagrammatic way of describing and analysing the pathways of a risk from causes to consequences. Bow-tie diagrams allow users to visualise the contributing factors and possible outcomes of a hazardous event in order to better determine effective controls. Bow-tie diagrams:

  • Provide information about a hazard and its contributing factors, consequences and controls in a visual form
  • Are a tool for communication of controls, control effectiveness, ownership, etc
  • Allow analysis and management of WHS risks throughout the asset lifecycle
  • Support investigation and assurance activities by identifying critical risk controls that are likely to fail
  • Assist in monitoring and reviewing control effectiveness
  • Support managers in identifying areas for improvement in WHS risk control.

Links to bow-tie diagrams are accessible through the Agency Safety Risk Register.


Watch animations explaining how bow-tie diagrams work:

Part 1


Part 2


Other resources

The WHS risk management framework and WHS risk management procedure outline key risk management activities and the steps required to ensure safety risks are systematically identified, assessed, controlled and reviewed. Procedures and information relating to specific WHS hazards and risks can be found under health and safety topics.

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