NSW WorkCover blitz should be national: TWU

Trucking union urges all governments to follow NSW decision to blitz trucking operators and customers to ensure fatigue compliance

May 7, 2010

Governments across the country should follow the lead of NSW in announcing a blitz on trucking operators and customers flouting fatigue management law, Transport Workers Union (TWU) National Secretary Tony Sheldon says.

NSW Finance Minister Michael Daley yesterday announced WorkCover would target more than 80 depots and companies to ensure drivers are not being forced to breach fatigue management restrictions to meet deadlines.

The Roads and Traffic Authority, WorkCover and the police will exchange information on truck crashes to help their investigation, amid an education campaign aimed at drivers to help them understand fatigue management.

Sheldon says it is time all governments investigated incidents. He also
reiterated the need for an overhaul of pay rates in the industry, which he believes force operators to
"undertake unsafe working practices to make a living".

"If a death occurs in the workplace, for example in a mine or on a construction site, a full investigation is made by the workplace as it should be. But for far too long, the deaths on our road transport industry are treated as road accidents rather than workplace deaths – there is no investigation of workplace systems," he says.

"This announcement will allow the authorities to inspect the chain of command, and hold clients accountable for the systems they use, which in turn, creates unsafe practices on the road."

TWU State Secretary Wayne Forno says the NSW Government's response is "long overdue".

"This is the kind of initiative we have been pushing and fighting for, for years. We look forward to working in close consultation with the Minister to implement it," he says.

The NSW campaign will

  • Audits at 80 distribution depots and high freight organisations to monitor compliance and make sure measures are in place to address fatigue risks
  • Face-to-face driver awareness days held by WorkCover and the RTA at five high-traffic truck stops across the State
  • Distribution of a specially produced ‘Homecomings’ CD for truck drivers, featuring popular music interspersed with safety messages
  • An extensive mail out of guidance material on how to reduce fatigue risks and meet regulatory obligations targeting consignors, consignees, head carriers and industry associations
  • Information exchange regarding the prevention and investigation of long-distance trucking crashes between WorkCover, Police, the RTA, and the Department of Environment.

Daley says the long-distance trucking industry is a highly-competitive business, with pressures on all participants to meet delivery schedules.

"These pressures can have fatal consequences for drivers and other road users,"
he says.

"As part of this initiative, the heads of workplace safety authorities have established a Long Distance Trucking Network to determine a national approach to fatigue management in the industry.

"All agencies involved in the regulation of fatigue and investigation of these incidents share the same goal of saving lives and reducing fatigue related incidents on Australian roads."

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