The road freight transport industry have joined WorkSafe Victoria to develop a strategy and action plan to improve workplace health and safety. According to Ross Pilkington, Director, Manufacturing Logistics and Agriculture Programme, WorkSafe Victoria, as a part of their continued focus on road freight transport, they tell the industry to take responsibility for their actions.
Research undertaken to understand ‘barriers to safety’ is being used by WorkSafe Victoria and the newly formed Transport Industry Alliance. The Alliance will build on the work already done by the Transport Industry Safety Group, which developed industry programmes and resources identified by coronial enquiries.
Road freight transport is one of Australia’s high-risk industries with around 1200 workplace injury claims, in Victoria alone, every year. Falls from trucks and being hit by moving objects are the major causes of injury.
Following are a few fatalities over the past two years:
- A truck driver who died after swallowing diesel he was syphoning after his truck ran out of fuel
- A truck driver ran over by his truck on a construction site
- A man crushed while doing maintenance work on a street sweeper
- A truck driver who died from head injuries
- A crane truck driver crushed while removing steel coil from a semi-trailer
WorkSafe Victoria commissioned research to understand key OHS issues in road freight transport in 2008. The idea was to carry out social research, involving not just management and industry stakeholders, but the drivers themselves and even their wives and partners. Woksafe Victoria wanted to identify the root causes of unsafe work practices and what stopped companies and workers complying with OHS laws.
The research found that there was consensus about the industry’s unique nature, in that the workplace was mobile and the nature of the work meant people might encounter many different ‘workplaces’ each day. According to the report, other factors were such as other vehicles on the road and the quality of delivery depots were among the main reasons given as to why the risk of injury was considered to be high. This poses significant challenges for the upholding of industry-wide OHS standards because safety cannot be as easily monitored or enforced by an employer as it can be in most other jobs.
WorkSafe Victoria have recognised that the tough economic times are affecting many companies, but cutting corners with safety is not the right strategy. WorkSafe Victoria will remain vigilant in ensuring employers do not increase the risk of injury to their workers by taking short cuts to save money. WorkSafe Victoria have also produced a DVD focusing on the issues raised in the research, as seen through the eyes of three men working in road freight transport.