The National Academies

NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/Topic 52-09 [Final (Synthesis)]

Use of Safety Management Systems in Managing Highway Maintenance Worker Safety
[ NCHRP 20-05 (Synthesis of Information Related to Highway Practices) ]

  Project Data
Funds: $45,000
Authorization to Begin Work: 5/1/2020 -- estimated
Staff Responsibility: Jo Allen Gause
Research Agency: University of Kentucky
Principal Investigator: Gabe Dadi
Completion Date: 9/28/2021
Comments: Published as NCHRP Synthesis Report 591.
Fiscal Year: 2021


Final Scope


State department of transportation (DOT) employee safety and health programs are vital to the success of a DOT. While the safety of all DOT employees is paramount, maintenance and other field workers are exposed to unique hazards that demand a higher level of management than traditional office-based positions. However, some DOT safety programs include initiatives that are standalone and documented on individual paper reports, which can be difficult to store, sort, and aggregate for critical analysis and improvement.


Safety management systems (SMSs), both formal and informal, allow a DOT to electronically report, manage, control, and audit issues related to employee safety. SMSs allow safety and health divisions in DOTs to become more agile, effective, and knowledgeable about the safety of employees. The use of SMSs varies by DOT; some DOTs have outsourced development of an SMS, some DOTs have developed systems in house, and some DOTs have no formal SMS. The scope and content of each SMS also varies by DOT.


The objective of this synthesis is to document the state of the practice of DOT SMSs, including various system capabilities and related policies and procedures.


Information that should be gathered includes but is not limited to:

·         Type of system, tools, or mechanism used

·         Data collected and entered in SMSs (may vary by system type)

·         The means and methods of entering, accessing, analysis, and retention of safety data

·         Internal and external reporting

·         Costs associated with system(s)

·         Written policies and procedures associated with SMS


Information will be collected through literature review, a survey of DOTs, and follow-up interviews with selected agencies for the development of case examples.  Information gaps and suggestions for research to address those gaps will be identified.


Information Sources (Partial):

·         Al-Shabbani, Z., Sturgill, Jr., R. E., and Dadi, G. B. (2017). “Safety Concepts for Workers from an OSHA Perspective.” Research Report KTC-17-14/SPR15-508-1F. Kentucky Transportation Center, Lexington, KY.

·         Hale, A. R., Heming, B. H. J., Carthey, J., and Kirwan, B. (1997). “Modelling of Safety Management Systems.” Safety Science, Elsevier, 26 (1-2), 121-140.

·         International Organization for Standardization (ISO). (2018). “Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems – Requirements with Guidance for Use.” ISO 45001:2018.

·         “Managing for Health and Safety.” United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive (HSE) HSG65, 2013. https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg65.htm.

·         “Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs.” United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). https://www.osha.gov/shpguidelines/.

Topic Panel
Anita Bush, Nevada Department of Transportation
Anthony Courtwright, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet
Wende Giorgi, New Hampshire Department of Transportation
Derrick Greenfield, Iowa Department of Transportation
Lubov Koptsev, New York State Department of Transportation
Chukwuma Nnaji, University of Alabama
Philip Bobitz, Federal Highway Administration
James W. Bryant, Transportation Research Board










To create a link to this page, use this URL: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=4985