Workplace safety is a critical issue in the transport sector. Unfortunately this issue is only getting worse. According to Safe Work Australia, workplace deaths in the transport industry rose from 48 to 55 between 2014 and 2015, the most of any industry. With fatalities this high, it’s clear that driver safety should be the number one concern for fleet managers in the transport industry. Your organisation is responsible for the safety of each driver, whether they’re on site or out on the road, and setting safety policies isn’t enough. The Work Health and Safety Act makes it clear that businesses must proactively manage compliance with these policies, meaning your business is at risk of being held liable for any accidents.
Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy
The government and union bodies recognise this is a serious concern, implementing the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2022, which aims to reduce workplace fatalities by at least 20 per cent and the rate of injury claims by at least 30 per cent. This strategy also aims to undertake much-needed research that will highlight the causes for these injuries and deaths, as well as encouraging the industry to take proactive measures to enforce safety policies and programs. If you’re concerned about the safety of your fleet, take a look at some of the initiatives that other businesses across the transport sector have implemented as part of this strategy, in a bid to tackle workplace safety.
Education and training
Proper safety training is crucial for both managers and workers. Fleet managers need to be aware of business risks so they can implement correct policies, while drivers need to be educated on expected behaviours so they can do their jobs safely. But attending training courses or conferences can be costly, time-consuming and difficult to arrange for smaller organisations or rural businesses. There are now a number of remote options to assist businesses with these challenges. For example, The Australian Strategy Virtual Seminar Series is an online resource for business leaders and fleet managers, with seminars featuring industry experts, academics and business leaders who share their experience and knowledge in safety. Investing in a driver training software can also help identify, monitor and mitigate at-risk driving behaviour.
Access to accurate data is crucial for businesses to be proactive about reducing fatalities and injuries. Safe Work Australia is collecting data on where and why workers have died, been injured or made ill so they can shape future policies and initiatives aimed at preventing injury. It’s important that transport organisations take advantage of available information on their own fleet as well. With real data on important metrics like speeding or vehicle maintenance, you’ll be better placed to make informed decisions about driver safety policies, or to make sure vehicles are safe to drive.
The road transport industry fatality rate was more than 10 times the national average in 2013. In fact, the industry makes up only 2 per cent of the national workforce, but accounted for 21 per cent of workplace deaths. Given that the main cause was vehicle incidents, it’s crucial that businesses begin to address vehicle safety standards and implement measures to monitor driver safety and vehicle maintenance. Comcare and state vehicle regulators have identified a need for proactive safety regulation, implementing inspection processes for heavy vehicles to combat growing rates of vehicle incidents.
Truck rollovers are a serious concern for the transport industry. In 2015, there were 15 incidents of truck rollovers and two related fatalities in south western Victoria alone. To respond to this issue, VicRoads has launched an education campaign focused on heavy vehicle safety. Roadside safety signs have been installed along the roads where incidents occurred, to raise awareness of the risks associated with unsecured loads and rollovers. The road authority aims to remind drivers about the potential for dangers and provide advice about avoiding any incidents.
Driver behaviour contributes to a significant number of deaths and injuries. In response to incidents involving heavy vehicles, the Queensland government recently launched a Heavy Vehicle Safety Action Plan, listing driver distraction, fatigue management, seatbelt use and speeding as four of the six major areas contributing to incidents. The Action Plan includes a proposal to audit rest areas across the state to ensure that drivers have the necessary opportunities to take breaks, as well as support for the industry to include safe road behaviours for drivers in commercial contracts.
A number of excellent initiatives have been introduced to tackle the challenge of workplace safety but the statistics prove there’s still work to be done. Is your fleet as safe as it could be? There are plenty of ways you can improve safety, from monitoring regular vehicle maintenance to implementing measures that protect drivers in remote areas, like automatic alerts if something goes wrong.