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Transporters in sights of workplace safety bodies

Workplace safety authorities across the country vow to examine the transport industry and reduce injury rates

Workplace safety authorities across the country have vowed to examine the road transport industry and reduce injury rates.

The 18-month campaign, signed off by all jurisdictions under the Heads of Workplace Safety Authorities (HWSA) group last Friday, aims to investigate injury rates from manual tasks like loading and unloading vehicles.

Along with examining injury rates among workers across transport and storage industries, jurisdictions have also vowed to look at the relationship between transporters and retail and wholesale groups.

The HWSA body cites national injury statistics from 2005-06 which show the rate of muscular stress claims for road freight transport and road freight forwarding was 10.6 workers per 1000, compared to 7 workers per 1000 across the combined retail, wholesale, transport and storage industries.

It says back and shoulder injuries due to lifting, carrying, putting down or handling objects are common injuries in the retail, wholesale, transport and storage industries.

The campaign aims to build on preliminary studies by WorkSafe Victoria which indicate the industry itself believes that loading and unloading vehicles is a significant health and safety issue that needs to be addressed.

A survey of transport industry workers and employers will be conducted in November, with the results used to develop “practical information tools and products”.

Workshops and site visits will also be conducted early next year as part of a wider education campaign.

Workplace safety bodies will then conduct workplace audits late next year, with the results of the campaign expected to be released in the first quarter of 2010.

Queensland’s Employment and Industrial Relations Minister John Mickel says the road freight industry contributes significantly to workers’ compensation claims for muscular stress injuries.

“Injuries from manual tasks and moving objects are a considerable financial burden to workers and to industry,” he says.

“This campaign will help us to identify why this is the case and ultimately help to safeguard workers from injury and reduce workers’ compensation costs to employers.”

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