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Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative round backs 24 projects

Cash for mental health, container haulage safety and rural industry programs amongst others


More than $700,000 of heavy vehicle safety funding has been allocated to supporting truck driver mental health initiatives through the 2019-20 Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative (HVSI), federal infrastructure and transport minister Michael McCormack announces.

Funding for mental health would be allocated to three organisations under the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) $5.4 million safety fund.

“Among the 24 recipients, Canberra-based OzHelp Foundation will receive $250,000 to develop and pilot a heavy vehicle industry health promotion and assistance program for owner-drivers,” McCormack says.

“Not only do owner-drivers have to manage incredibly difficult conditions on our roads, they also have the added challenge of managing productivity and safety across their own business.

“OzHelp’s program will provide the platform and pathway for owner drivers to increase their awareness and ability to take proactive steps to address their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Funding has also been allocated to Perth-based Injury Matters, to raise industry awareness of operator’s mental and physical safety across Western Australia, while the NT Road Transport Association had been allocated $36,700 to assist heavy vehicle drivers who are first responders to road accidents.

Financial support has also gone to a grouping of port container haulage and trade services firms – Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA), the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) and Container Transport Alliance of Australia (CTAA) – for safe container handling.

“The program will also support a number of information programs following the introduction of Chain of Responsibility legislation last year,” assistant minister for road safety and freight transport Scott Buchholz says.

“As a regional MP, I know how important it is that everyone involved in the supply chain – from farmers to the saleyard workers to vehicle operators – understands their obligations under the legislation.

“We’re funding programs through the Australian Livestock Markets Association and the Livestock Bulk and Rural Carriers Association to educate the industry about these important reforms.”

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto states that the fourth round of funding would continue to play a crucial role in improving heavy vehicle safety and productivity.

“These new initiatives contribute collectively to better heavy vehicle industry safety, education, policy and practice in Australia,” Petroccitto says.

“The NHVR is looking forward to working with the winning bids to ensure the projects deliver safety outcomes for all road users.”

CEO of OzHelp Foundation Darren Black says he is pleased the funding would support their crucial work.

“OzHelp looks forward to working closely with the Federal Government and NHVR to improve the mental health and wellbeing of truck drivers whom we know work in one of Australia’s most high-risk work environments,” Black says.

“This grant will enable us to focus on the delivery of proactive early intervention programs and support services in a pilot that targets those most in need and hardest to reach, the small operators and owner drivers.”

Read how HVSI funding is used for the We Need Space Campaign, here

The FTA/APSA/CTAA initiative aims to address long-standing heavy vehicle safety concerns caused by the scourge of unsafe loading and cargo restraint inside international shipping containers.

“We thank the minister, Michael McCormack, and the NHVR for seeing the value in seeking to raise awareness and knowledge about the correct packing and load restraint of cargo inside shipping containers,” CTAA director Neil Chambers says.

“This applies to cargo destined for export from Australia, as well as to cargo arriving as imports from overseas.

“Cargo inside shipping containers that is inappropriately packed, poorly restrained and/or unevenly weight distributed can cause serious heavy vehicle road safety issues.

“This includes the heightened risk of truck rollovers, load shifts contributing to road accidents, and heavy vehicle axle mass breaches. Additionally, these issues can have a big impact on the safety of workers engaged in loading or unloading shipping containers.”

“The container transport logistics sector will experience significant growth over the next two decades. In 2017/2018, there were over 8 million twenty-foot equivalent units [TEU] exchanged through Australia’s capital city container ports of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Fremantle.

“By 2032/2033, the task is expected to grow to over 19 million TEU.

“Over 80 per cent of containers through Australia’s capital city ports are transported by road, with a current estimate of over 3 million truck trips per annum carrying full containers to and from ports. With the rise in the container freight task out to 2032/2033, the number of truck trips will more than double to over 7 million trips per annum.”

The grouping notes that under Chain of Responsibility (CoR) laws, importers and exporters have obligations to ensure that their actions or inactions do not contribute to a breach of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

This includes taking practical steps to ensure that cargo inside shipping containers is packed and restrained so as not to cause a breach of road laws when containers are transported on a public road in Australia.

FTA director Travis Brooks-Garrett adds that the funding will allow the grouping to collaborate with all parties in the container logistics chain to develop guidance materials, on-line training initiatives, and face-to-face forums to promote best practice in shipping container packing, cargo load restraint and weight distribution.

“These guidance materials and initiatives will assist importers to engage with their suppliers and packers overseas, and for exporters to review their packing and transport practices, to improve safety compliance.” Travis Brooks-Garrett says.

“This is a first for Australia, and is likely to receive international recognition given the international push for greater adoption of global safety standards such as IMO/ILO/UNECE Code of Practice for Packing Cargo Units [CTU Code], which dove-tails well with the container packing guidance contained in the Australian Load Restraint Guide.”

The project will be developed over this financial year, with materials being promoted nationally in the first half of 2020.

“We are aiming for broad national reach, and the development of on-line materials and training & awareness building outcomes that are enduring.” Travis Brooks-Garrett says.

The issue of unsafe container cargo is one that extends to wherever containers can be found and that is often deep inland.

“If we can help save one life, or one heavy roll-over or accident caused by load shift, as well as lower the commercial risk of cargo damage from poor container loading practices, it will be worth it,” Chambers says.

The full list of round 4 recipients can be found here.


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