Qld sets new OH&S standards for problem T&L sector

By: Jason Whittaker

Queensland’s transport and storage industries will be subject to a new set of workplace health and safety standards outlined in

Queensland’s transport and storage industries will be subject to a new set of workplace health and safety standards outlined in a State Government action plan launched by Minister for Transport, Employment and Industrial Relations John Mickel.

Transport is one of seven "problem" industries being targeted by the Government, with the industry-specific plans part of the second stage of the Queensland Workplace Health and Safety Strategy 2004-12, which aims to reduce the incidence of work-related injuries and fatalities by 40 and 20 percent respectively.

And the figures don’t lie, with 2005-06 statistics revealing there was an average of 11.9 fatalities per 100,000 transport workers in the state.

This is a significant figure when compared with the industry-wide result, which sits at just 3.2 fatalities per 100,000 workers for Queensland as a whole.

The figures as just as stark regarding the non-fatal injury count, with nearly 24 claims per 1,000 workers lodged during that period — nine above the average for all other industries.

Despite the State Government’s current WH&S strategy reaching its half way point, Mickel admits the current targets for non-fatal injuries are not being met and a "significant improvement" will be needed if the transport and storage industries are to meet their 40 percent reduction by 2012.

"Trucking safety has been one of on-going concern at a national level," says Mickel.

"This is a measure to ensure someone who leaves for work will return home safe and sound. One death is too many."

A large section of the action plan is dedicated to the reduction of musculoskeletal disorders — those associated with lifting, carrying, putting down or handling objects and commonly affecting the lower back, shoulder and knees in the transport industry — which represented 63 percent of non-fatal claims between 2003-04 and 2005-06.

Three major initiatives include a "safety in the supply chain" forum to identity issues and relevant solutions for the industry, a "moving goods safely" program to reduce the rate of musculoskeletal injuries and a WH&S Queensland plan to help "transport operators and owner-drivers" identify issues relating to their position within the supply chain.

The plan will also look to place an emphasis on promoting a drug and alcohol free culture.

Mickel also wants unions to come to the party on standardising WH&S practices after yesterday witnessing EBA award workers given permission to forego company policies requiring the wearing of safety equipment such as helmets.

"If I’d have gone on to the factory floor today I would have been expected to be asked to wear the full-set of safety gear," he says.

"I think an EBA arrangement that says you don’t have to wear the same safety gear as every other worker is an interesting proposition but one I don’t share."

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