WorkSafe SA in crash probe clarification after TWU calls

Regulator defers to police as CCF turns attention to roads inaction

WorkSafe SA in crash probe clarification after TWU calls
Channel 7 footage of the incident


South Australian workplace regulator WorkSafe SA has clarified the process involved in investigating road incidents following Transport Workers Union (TWU) calls to treat fatal truck crashes as workplace deaths.

After a double truck-driver fatality in a head-on collision on the Augusta Highway over Easter, the TWU reiterated its demands when SA Police noted that it was exploring driver fatigue as a possible cause for the crash.

"In most cases this [fatigue] is a direct result from pressure at the top of transport supply chain," TWU national secretary Michael Kaine says.

"We are deeply saddened to lose two truck drivers and in such dreadful circumstances.

"A truck driver’s workplace is on the road. When the worst happens, we must look beyond the debris and ask the important questions: was this driver fatigued or under pressure to meet a deadline?

"Was there enough money in the pot to ensure their vehicle was properly maintained?

"We urge the Federal Government to ensure no stone is left unturned in finding the cause of this crash and prosecuting where necessary."

Read about TWU's calls to treat truck-driver deaths as workplace fatalities, here

The TWU notes that standard crash investigations fail to explore all possible causes beyond the mechanics of what happened at the time of the crash.

"Truck driver deaths have bypassed the vigilant investigations that rightfully follow deaths on building sites, in factories, in the mines," Sheldon says.

"Until we start asking these questions and laying blame where it’s due, truck drivers will never be safe on our roads."

When contacted by ATN, SafeWork SA says that it has jurisdiction over all workplace incidents as the regulator for workplace safety, however it "defers to SA Police as the lead agency for all major vehicular incidents such as the Augusta Highway tragedy", and each event is treated on a case-by-case basis.

"Generally speaking, SA Police major crash investigators undertake an initial assessment of the scene to determine the circumstances of the incident, while the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator [NHVR] looks at matters including fatigue, chain of responsibility, vehicle maintenance, etc.

"SafeWork SA assesses such incidents on a case-by-case basis, working closely with SA Police and the NHVR to determine whether further investigation is warranted."

SA Police tells ATN that the crash is still under investigation by Major Crash officers, and no further details are available at this stage.

CCF SA criticises inaction

Civil Contractors Federation South Australia (CCF SA) is quoted as criticising the inaction on calls to duplicate the Augusta Highway, where 20 motorists have died and 60 have been injured in the past three years.

"It is not about politics - it has to be about saving lives, reducing unnecessary road trauma and ensuring this commercial, tourist and regional gateway into Adelaide or all points north, becomes a 'must fix now' priority," CCF SA Phil Sutherland says.

"The overdue upgrade didn't even make it into the country's top ten highest priority funding commitments in February's release by Infrastructure Australia of its main focus.

"Such short-sightedness and lack of understanding as to the very import of this SA highway is no longer tolerable."


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