Stop treat­ing the truck in­dus­try like an ‘en­emy’


SAFEWORK has re­leased its data show­ing trans­port and ware­hous­ing again at the top of the list as the in­dus­try with the most fa­tal­i­ties.

We need to pause a mo­ment here and re­flect on the loss to fam­i­lies.

In 2014, this col­umn re­ported on the pres­sures that were faced by truck driv­ers.

“Truck driv­ing is Aus­tralia’s most dan­ger­ous job, with driv­ers 15 times more likely to be killed at work than any other na­tional in­dus­try. We asked the ques­tion – is it any won­der our truck driv­ers are an­gry? If this hap­pened in any other in­dus­try there’d be a royal com­mis­sion into it.”

Four years on, we are still see­ing the deaths and still see­ing an in­dus­try re­sponse that is ba­si­cally words, and very lit­tle ac­tion.

The Trans­port Work­ers Union can eas­ily sup­port in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion calls for peo­ple to stop treat­ing the truck in­dus­try as an en­emy and the need for gov­ern­ments and light ve­hi­cle driv­ers to un­der­stand that truck driv­ers are in the mi­nor­ity when it comes to blame for ac­ci­dents.

Yet, some­where in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tions ap­pear to have lost their fo­cus.

The Aus­tralian Truck As­so­ci­a­tion has a new mas­ter code that comes sup­ported by fed­eral money to cre­ate a num­ber of safety projects.

In the ATA’s own words: “the projects will help ed­u­cate learner driv­ers about shar­ing the road safely with trucks, de­liver more safety cam­eras and see the con­struc­tion of Aus­tralia’s first road­side ef­flu­ent dis­posal fa­cil­ity for live­stock car­ri­ers”.

NatRoad has sug­gested the chain of re­spon­si­bil­ity rules will “take the heat off the driver and place re­spon­si­bil­ity for con­trol­ling risk with the party best able to take that step” – we know that un­til reg­u­la­tion is put in place which specif­i­cally holds the com­pa­nies which con­trol the trans­port supply chain to ac­count, noth­ing will change.

Last col­umn, I showed you how the RMS in NSW plans to en­sure that the driver is at the cen­tre of their com­pli­ance op­er­a­tions.

This is one very clear in­di­ca­tor as to why the CoR changes will still have very lit­tle ef­fect on a board­room.

If CoR is to work, we need to see govern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions like the Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor take on the board­rooms, take on the peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for mak­ing driv­ers wait five hours in a yard to get a load, take on the is­sues that af­fect a driver’s driv­ing hours, and there is much more than this space will al­low.

Re­mem­ber, we know what is go­ing on in the in­dus­try, we rep­re­sent the driv­ers.

A re­minder too of a land­mark 12 year study by Monash Univer­sity done in part­ner­ship with the TWU.

The study’s re­search found that driv­ing a truck is the most dan­ger­ous job in Aus­tralia.

That truck driv­ers had a 13 times higher risk of dy­ing at work than other Aus­tralian work­ers, as well as a higher risk of ill­ness, psy­cho­log­i­cal stress and other in­juries.

That three-quar­ters of truck driver fa­tal­i­ties were due to crashes.

That driv­ers will take an av­er­age of five weeks off work due to work-re­lated mus­cu­loskele­tal in­juries – the most com­mon form of in­jury for truck driv­ers – and an av­er­age of 10 weeks off for work-re­lated men­tal health con­di­tions.

How is it that driv­ers are be­ing ig­nored when it’s the driv­ers who are dy­ing?

Pos­si­bly it’s the in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tions’ ad­vo­cacy to en­sure that changes to the in­dus­try are “vol­un­tary”.

The TWU is al­ways avail­able for a con­ver­sa­tion with the in­dus­try.


UN­DER­STAND­ING: The TWU says gov­ern­ments and light ve­hi­cle driv­ers need to un­der­stand truck driv­ers are in the mi­nor­ity when it comes to blame for road ac­ci­dents.

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