Safety Management Systems (SMS)

About Safety Management Systems

The safety of transport activities relating to a heavy vehicle is the shared responsibility of each party in the Chain of Responsibility. Each party in the chain must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that transport activities relating to the vehicle are conducted safely.

The executive officer of a business conducting transport activities has additional and specific responsibilities to take reasonable steps to ensure transport activities are conducted safely, eliminating or minimising hazards and risks.

Regardless of the size of your business, having an effective Safety Management System (SMS) can be one of the best ways of ensuring you have a safety-focused business and are complying with your safety duty obligations under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

This section of our website provides guidance and document templates to help you implement an SMS in your business. We’ve developed these products in consultation with representatives from the heavy vehicle industry through the new Safety Industry Operator Group

Our overview booklet Introduction to Safety Management Systems in the Heavy Vehicle Industry (PDF, 1.6MB) provides some practical guidance to help you implement an SMS in your business. The booklet contains information that:

  • highlights why, as an industry participant in the heavy vehicle Chain of Responsibility, adopting and actively utilising an SMS is important and beneficial to your business
  • demonstrates how an SMS can assist your business to meet its safety duties obligations under the HVNL
  • explains what a typical SMS looks like, including its four key components and their elements.
  • advises you how best to get started on building an SMS as part of your everyday business.

Our SMS Fact Sheet (PDF, 269KB) provides a short overview of an SMS and the FAQs (frequently asked questions) page provides some further information.

As a good starting point, it’s recommended that you read the overview booklet Introduction to Safety Management Systems in the Heavy Vehicle Industry (PDF, 1.6MB). Following this, visit the Safety policy and documentation and Safety risk management pages and take a look at the guidance material and templates we’re provided. We are currently developing additional guidance and document templates that will be accessible once completed. We will advise when these materials become available through social media (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) and our On the Road e-newsletter.

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Once you have read through all this material, you may also find it useful to complete our Safety Management System (SMS) Checklist (DOCX, 84KB) to help identify which SMS elements you already have in place and which others it might be beneficial for you to introduce to your business.

Safety assurance

Safety assurance is the process of monitoring and measuring how your SMS is performing. It’s about looking at the things you’re doing to manage safety to see what’s working well and what isn’t.


An SMS is the coordinated and systematic processes your business undertakes to manage safety risks and ensure the safety of your transport activities.