WorkSafe works to get out the road transport safety message
The road transport industry has joined WorkSafe Victoria to help develop a strategy and action plan to improve workplace health and safety.
“As part of our continued focus on road transport, we are telling the industry to take responsibility for its actions,” WorkSafe’s manufacturing logistics and agriculture program director, Ross Pilkington said.
“We want to work closely to support them through the process, but a higher level of engagement is needed.”
Research undertaken to help understand ‘barriers to safety’ is being used by WorkSafe and the newly formed Transport Industry Alliance.
The alliance will build on the work already done by the Transport Industry Safety Group, which develops industry programs and resources identified by coronial enquiries.
“Road freight transport is one of Australia’s highest-risk industries with around 1,200 workplace injury claims, in Victoria alone, every year.
“Falls from trucks and being hit by moving objects are the major causes of injury,” Mr Pilkington said.
“What concerns us most is that despite the work we have done with the industry over the past five years, there has been little improvement in the number of injuries occurring.”
There have also been a number of fatalities over the past two years, including:
- A truck driver who died after swallowing diesel he was syphoning after his truck ran out of fuel;
- A truck driver run over by his own truck on a construction site;
- A man crushed while doing maintenance work on a street sweeper;
- A truck driver who died from head injuries. He was found near the passenger side of his prime mover;
- A crane truck driver crushed while removing steel coil from a semi-trailer.
“Just before Christmas, two people died when they were run over by trucks at work. One of them was a 17-year-old apprentice.”
WorkSafe commissioned research to help it better 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,” Mr Pilkington said.
“We wanted to identify the root causes of unsafe work practices and what stopped companies and workers complying with OHS laws.
The research found there was consensus about the industry’s unique nature, in that the workplace was mobile and the very nature of the work meant people might encounter many different ‘workplaces’ each day.
“Other factors, 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,” the report said.
“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 recognises that the tough economic times are affecting many companies, but cutting corners with safety is not the right strategy.
“WorkSafe will remain vigilant in ensuring employers do not increase the risk of injury to their workers by taking short cuts to save money.”
WorkSafe has 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.
The link to this short film, as well as other information on workplace safety and the road freight transport industry, can be found at worksafe.vic.gov.au/roadtransport
Information produced by the Transport Industry Safety Group can be found at www.vta.com.au under the ‘Safety’ banner.