St Clair outlines vision for safer industry


ATA CEO outlines plan to improve safety in trucking, while Lindsay Fox says customers demand operators focus on the issue

By Brad Gardner | December 11, 2009

Trucking operators need to implement strong workplace polices and governments must build better roads and grant B-triples access to improve safety, according to the chief executive of the Australian Trucking Association.

Stuart St Clair used his address to the Informa Road Safety Conference to outline steps to improve safety in the industry.

He told attendees Australia’s best companies train and monitor their drivers and ensure they are healthy and fit to drive.

St Clair says policies such as investing in the safest vehicles and scheduling drivers legally will also improve safety.

He urged governments to build duplicated highways and more rest areas to help drivers manage fatigue, and says better right turn lanes to accommodate trucks will reduce rear-end collisions.

"In urban areas, consider reducing speed limits in areas where there are extensive truck movements," he says.

Reiterating the ATA’s policy on higher productivity vehicles, St Clair says B-triples cut the risk of accidents because they reduce the need for more trucks on the road.

"Two B-triples can do the work of three B-doubles or five normal semi trailers," he says.

According to St Clair, B-triples are equipped with the latest safety technology and are more stable than semi trailers.

However, he used the conference to say more needs to be done by rigid vehicle operators, after statistics noted an alarming increase in the number of crashes.

"Compared to 2007, there was a 44 percent increase in the number of fatal crashes between midnight and 6am," St Clair says.

Although pay rates was not mentioned by St Clair during his speech, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) argues drivers commit unsafe practices because of low pay.

The Rudd Government is planning to overhaul remuneration in the industry after a report released last year identified a link between safety and pay.

St Clair’s speech came after the release of a report which found the road freight sector was the most dangerous industry occupation.

According to Safe Work Australia’s Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia 2006-07, the fatality rate for the road freight sector is 37.6 deaths per 100,000 workers.

The national average is 2.8 deaths per 100,000, the report says.

Industry icon Lindsay Fox also highlighted the importance of safety in a speech to the National Press Club earlier this week.

He says major customers are now demanding trucking companies focus on safety as well as the environment.

Linfox has implemented its Vision Zero safety policy, and Fox says safety is the "first spoke in the wheel" for trucking.

He says the policy has been a success.

"When people come to work at Linfox, they know they will come home safe again and be ready to work the next day," Fox says.


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