OHS professor: RSRO will improve truck driver safety

Michael Quinlan says the minimum rates order will improve occupational safety for truck drivers

OHS professor: RSRO will improve truck driver safety
Michael Quinlan.


The Road Safety Remuneration Order (RSRO) will bring about many changes in the Australian road transport sector but they won’t be all bad, University of New South Wales’ professor Michael Quinlan says.

Quinlan, who specialises in occupational health and safety (OHS) and risk, has been part of several government inquiries on safety in the trucking industry and OHS regulatory regimes.

Speaking to Owner/Driver, Quinlan says truck drivers sometimes have to work in sub-standard conditions and the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT’s) order is designed to change that disparity within the industry.

"It’s not just about driver safety. It’s also a matter of public safety," Quinlan says.

"The current system allows drivers to work under unacceptable standards, which not only put their lives at risk but also the lives of people who share the roads with them.

"Setting standard minimum pay will bring about resourcing efficiency and also improve the efficiency of the entire supply chain industry."

There is a lot of scaremongering going on in the industry which is not right, he says.

"Many people in the industry want people to think that the sky will fall if the Order is implemented but it is unlikely that something as huge as that could happen.

"Yes, there will be changes. The industry will be required to reorganise its operations and those changes aren’t always simple.

"But ultimately, those changes will improve the safety of truck drivers."

Quinlan highlights the importance and relevance of the minimum wage legislation, which garnered similar initial reaction in Australia.

"Hundred years back when the country initiated the minimum wage rule, there was similar angst and outcry in the community.

"Many industry members wanted people to think that it will ruin hundreds of business owners, but that change only worked in favour of Australia.

"It set a standard. It improved the wages of all workers across the board."

There have been studies conducted in other countries like the US and the UK, where you can see proof that setting minimum standard wages reduced other issues such as child labour, Quinlan says.

"The transport industry has always had small operators. There will always be small operators but setting a safety and pay standard will not drive them out of business.

"People who have been sceptical must take a community wide view to understand how this Order will change the lives of truck drivers and people related to industry.

"The issue is about setting a standard for the industry. It’s not just about pay, it’s about safety."

Quinlan says he disagrees with the statement that many within the industry were not aware of the existence of the RSRT or the legislation.

"The legislation was passed last year and the RSRT had been working on the draft order much before that. There is evidence to support that people were aware of it.

He blames the authorities for opposing the implementing of the new rules.

"The changes that will happen as a result of this Order will change things in the industry, but the changes are unlikely to happen the way scaremongers have been predicting."


Michael Quinlan is a professor in the School of Management and Director of the Industrial Relations Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.



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