WHILE the industry is looking forward to the implementation of uniform regulations and enforcement next year, there is still a major issue with uniformity that is creating frustration and impacting on drivers every day that so far has garnered little or no interest to be addressed.
That issue is Workplace Health and Safety (WH&S) or formally known as OH&S.
The issue with WH&S uniformity is far worse than the laws relating to heavy vehicles. It's not that you have different rules and regulations between states, but different rules and regulations between industries, companies and even divisions of the same companies with no standardisation of the requirements dictated to drivers by OH&S committees.
These committees are given carte blanche to create procedures over operations they often have little or no qualification or experience in, regardless of whether they exceed regulated WH&S standards or place operators and drivers in conflict with road laws, load restraint, fatigue, or even just plain common sense.
Load restraint has become one of the biggest WH&S issues with many companies placing blanket bans on dogs and chains even if to use other methods contradicts the load restraint guide or even the policy of the site that loaded the vehicle.
This created a headache recently for one national company when their own site in Newcastle refused to unload a trailer because they did not allow "over centre" dogs to be used even though the load originated from the same company's Wollongong division that requires "over centre" dogs be used for load restraint.
The phones were running hot between the two steel cities! Regardless if you have received industry certified training or have developed your own set of safe working procedures and guidelines, the moment you enter somebody else's work site all that becomes become irrelevant. In an induction process that can last anything from five minutes to over half a day you are forced to adopt procedures that possibly contradict your own training and processes or that will differ again to the next delivery site.
Many large companies would be lucky if they had two sites that utilise the exact same set of guidelines when it comes to the process of loading or unloading vehicles.
No wonder drivers quite often end up in conflict, becoming confused with the different requirements and reacting angrily when they bare the brunt of some safety officers overzealous attitude.
But this is nothing new to most of you reading this.
It's something we encounter nearly every day and though extremely frustrating at times we try to work through it as best we can.
How many work site safety inductions have you completed in the last 12 months?
If your anything like me you probably now have collected enough laminated induction cards that you could play a game of Solitaire with them while waiting to load.
The industry needs to develop sensible WH&S guidelines for working around the loading and unloading of vehicles, and should engage with Government so that recommended procedure can be uniformly accepted, a standard for Personal Protective Equipment, a standard for access, a standard that is the same, regardless of the site and a standard that gives certainty to drivers of what is expected of them and complies with the regulations.
The industry was led to believe the Transport & Distribution Blue Card would be a step towards uniform standards but barely anyone knows this card exists and no one will accept it as any sort of qualification for automatic entry onto a work site.
Everybody is entitled to go home at the end of the day in the same condition they went to work in, but people are questioning the cost of this WH&S madness on people's lives through over-the-top stupidity, stress, inefficiency and inability to look at the larger picture.
We must get those who write legislation to start to recognise this as well.
Safety isn't hard, it's the lack of uniformity that makes it hard.