— industry experts offer their opinions*
NatRoad is strengthening its capacity in the area of transport industry safety with a new appointment to its member services team. Warren Clark writes
THE NUMBER of road users losing their lives in crashes involving heavy vehicles has declined around 34 per cent since 2002.
However, the road transport industry fatality rate is still greater compared to other industries nationally, and 92 per cent of road transport fatalities have occurred in road freight transport.
We cannot be complacent about the health and safety risks that still exist in the road transport industry.
NatRoad is committed to helping heavy vehicle operators manage health and safety in their business. To strengthen our capacity in this area, NatRoad has appointed Julia Collins to its member services team.
Julia has extensive experience in work health and safety policy development, regulation and compliance.
She held senior positions at Safe Work Australia and played a key role in the harmonisation of Australia’s Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws, including the development of numerous national codes of practice.
With recent changes to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) aligning more closely with WHS laws, Julia has the ideal expertise to provide NatRoad members with advice on how to manage risks under both pieces of legislation.
“The new chain of responsibility laws require risks to be managed in the same way as WHS laws do,’’ Julia says.
“Parties in the chain must work together to proactively identify and control the risks related to their transport activities.
“While the HVNL safety duties are focused on the use of a heavy vehicle on a road, the WHS laws require all hazards and risks arising from your business to be eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable. The duties under the primary WHS law apply in addition to the HVNL.’’
Julia is developing practical guidance for NatRoad members on chain of responsibility and a stepby-step process on how to manage safety which will include tools and checklists designed for small businesses and owner operators.
“Discussing safety with others involved in your supply chain is essential. Never assume that someone else in the chain of responsibility is taking care of a safety issue,” Julia says.
“Check and confirm at the start of each journey what others are doing and ensure contracts and agreements clearly specify who is responsible for what.
“This will make the control of risks more likely and assist each party to comply with their duty.”
Julia believes that ultimately the HVNL should be completely integrated with the WHS laws so that heavy vehicle safety is managed holistically as part of a safe system of work.
This could also significantly reduce the regulatory burden on heavy vehicle operators.
NatRoad will continue its strong focus on improving safety in the heavy vehicle industry, including: • Supporting campaigns raising awareness amongst other road users to share the road safely • Engaging with owner-drivers to determine their views about the factors that adversely impact on their health and safety at work • Engaging with government to identify safety issues, including better and more comprehensive data about the profile of fatalities and serious injuries.
“Parties in the chain must work together”