WorkCover NSW on the road again

Safety watchdog to tackle issues in an industry marked by 'complex contractual arrangements'

February 16, 2012

Road freight firms in New South Wales can expect another increase in WorkCover attention and advice, the workplace safety body says today.

The project is part of WorkCover’s new flagship work health and safety program, 10/5/5, which involves working with the NSW community to improve safety in the State’s 10 highest risk industries.

It follows a fatigue blitz two years ago, when inspectors visited about 80 depots and companies to improve driver awareness of fatigue management law.

WorkCover intends to visit 30 businesses, both road freight transport companies and those who utilise their services in metropolitan Sydney, the Illawarra and South East, and the North Coast to compare issues identified by WorkCover with what employers and drivers are experiencing as well as discuss possible barriers to improving safety, the watchdog says.

WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division General Manager, John Watson, said the project aims to assist employers and workers to make their workplaces more productive, healthy and safe.

"The road freight transport industry includes bulk freight, long distance and short distance trucking all of which operate in a complex industry structure," Watson says.

"It includes more than 36,000 workers involved in a variety of tasks ranging from local parcel delivery through to intrastate transfer of retail and wholesale goods as well as interstate movement of bulk goods and containers.

"The majority of employers are small businesses while some larger employers engage independent sub-contractors to transport goods while others operate their own fleet and employ their own drivers.

"These complex contractual relationships and extensive outsourcing arrangements result in a number of parties having an impact on safety, and through this project WorkCover aims to understand and address the safety issues related to each of them.

"While WorkCover and industry have implemented some outstanding safety programs in the past, now we need to delve deeper and identify ways to improve safety in the industry so it can be among the State’s safest rather than highest risk."

Feedback from the visits will help identify and develop safety programs that can reduce injuries and illnesses within the industry.

"Every worker wants to return home safely at the end of the working day and WorkCover recognises that the support of employers and workers is essential to developing effective work health and safety solutions," Watson says.

"The 10/5/5 program is about working with employers to develop relevant and effective work health and safety improvements and sustainable injury management, return to work and workers compensation outcomes."

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