UNDERSTANDING: The TWU says governments and light vehicle drivers need to understand truck drivers are in the minority when it comes to blame for road accidents.
UNDERSTANDING: The TWU says governments and light vehicle drivers need to understand truck drivers are in the minority when it comes to blame for road accidents. MaxPixel

Stop treating the truck industry like an 'enemy'

SAFEWORK has released its data showing transport and warehousing again at the top of the list as the industry with the most fatalities.

We need to pause a moment here and reflect on the loss to families.

In 2014, this column reported on the pressures that were faced by truck drivers.

"Truck driving is Australia's most dangerous job, with drivers 15 times more likely to be killed at work than any other national industry. We asked the question - is it any wonder our truck drivers are angry? If this happened in any other industry there'd be a royal commission into it.”

Four years on, we are still seeing the deaths and still seeing an industry response that is basically words, and very little action.

The Transport Workers Union can easily support industry association calls for people to stop treating the truck industry as an enemy and the need for governments and light vehicle drivers to understand that truck drivers are in the minority when it comes to blame for accidents.

Yet, somewhere industry associations appear to have lost their focus.

The Australian Truck Association has a new master code that comes supported by federal money to create a number of safety projects.

In the ATA's own words: "the projects will help educate learner drivers about sharing the road safely with trucks, deliver more safety cameras and see the construction of Australia's first roadside effluent disposal facility for livestock carriers”.

NatRoad has suggested the chain of responsibility rules will "take the heat off the driver and place responsibility for controlling risk with the party best able to take that step” - we know that until regulation is put in place which specifically holds the companies which control the transport supply chain to account, nothing will change.

Last column, I showed you how the RMS in NSW plans to ensure that the driver is at the centre of their compliance operations.

This is one very clear indicator as to why the CoR changes will still have very little effect on a boardroom.

If CoR is to work, we need to see government organisations like the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator take on the boardrooms, take on the people responsible for making drivers wait five hours in a yard to get a load, take on the issues that affect a driver's driving hours, and there is much more than this space will allow.

Remember, we know what is going on in the industry, we represent the drivers.

A reminder too of a landmark 12year study by Monash University done in partnership with the TWU.

The study's research found that driving a truck is the most dangerous job in Australia.

That truck drivers had a 13times higher risk of dying at work than other Australian workers, as well as a higher risk of illness, psychological stress and other injuries.

That three-quarters of truck driver fatalities were due to crashes.

That drivers will take an average of five weeks off work due to work-related musculoskeletal injuries - the most common form of injury for truck drivers - and an average of 10 weeks off for work-related mental health conditions.

How is it that drivers are being ignored when it's the drivers who are dying?

Possibly it's the industry associations' advocacy to ensure that changes to the industry are "voluntary”.

The TWU is always available for a conversation with the industry.

Big Rigs

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