Senator Glenn Sterle sets his sights on poor safety practices at distribution centres.
Senator Glenn Sterle sets his sights on poor safety practices at distribution centres.

Glenn Sterle calls out DCs ‘poor practices’

TRANSPORT ally Western Australian Labor Senator Glenn Sterle has set his sights on poor practices being carried out at various distribution centres across the country.

In a letter to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack, Mr Sterle outline his concerns about distribution centres, as well as how truck drivers were being treated at roadhouses and rest areas across the country amid the COVID-19 crisis.

"The last thing we need is an outbreak at a distribution centre," he said.

"During this COVID-19 pandemic, adequate safety measures and sensible hygiene practices must be carried out at distribution centres in order to guarantee the health of our truck drivers. "Truckies are the heart beat of our nation; Australia's supply chain depends on their health and their ability to be able to carry out their job safely."

He said reports at distribution centres included:

•No adequate sanitation facilities available

•At some distribution centres, drivers are forced to use the same phone to enter the site as the driver before them without any cleaning materials being supplied

•Communal pens are being offered to sign paperwork

•Forklifts aren't being cleaned in between different people using them

•Staff at distribution centres seem to adopt appropriate social distancing measures behind their locked office doors and have access to PPE equipment however that is not being offered to drivers when they arrive to load/unload

•Sign in areas are dirty and are not being cleaned regularly

•Social distancing measures are not being practised or enforced in waiting areas

He requested the urgent formation of a consultative working group that must include all state based transport associations, NatRoad, LRTA, National Road Freighters Association, Transport Workers Union, ARTIO and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

Mr Sterle said this group understood the problems and could provide the government with solutions.

"As the Prime Minister continues to say, we are all in this together," he said.

Mr Sterle also requested the government appeal to the major food retailers to include truck drivers in their list of "essential workers" so they can access the dedicated shopping time allocated like other essential workers can.

"At short notice, truck drivers have to leave for extended periods of time and many take their own food and supplies with them for the journey to their destination and back," he said.

"Having a dedicated time to go to the shops would help facilitate that.

In his letter, Mr Sterle reiterated that his offer to work with the government and the industry to come up with solutions to ensure truckies were safe and had the best possible working conditions still stood.

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