and an academic from the University of New South Wales have released research into the state of the Australian trucking industry in a bid to promote best practice.
Lori Mooren, a senior research fellow at UNSW, shared some of her findings from her research which was partly funded by Zurich
at recent events in both Sydney and Melbourne.
“Heavy vehicle fatalities have decreased by 32% over the past decade,” Mooren noted
“The trucking industry is one where employers do know that there are serious risks to their employees, to their cargo and to their business in using the road. They have been a lot more proactive than most employers in managing risks of using the road.”
Mooren added that “of all work fatalities, 67% are vehicle related,” and that a person is 50% more likely to crash in a company vehicle than one of their own.
“When people don’t own their own vehicle, they don’t treat it as well. When they are travelling for work, they are often doing things like talking on a mobile phone, or they are in a hurry. The combination of distractions, speed and sometimes fatigue, are some of the reasons,” Mooren said of the startling statistic.
While the trucking industry has done much to ensure the safety of its employees and other Australian road users, Mooren warned that more could still be done across the industry to further manage risk.
“A lot of research has found that some employers haven’t fully embraced the problem of crashes.
“There is the attitude that someone else manages road safety, whether it’s the police or road authorities, and it’s really up to them to get people to follow the rules of the road. These employers are not owning the problem.”
Mooren highlighted BHP Biliton, which last year ensured that all company cars received a five-star safety rating from the NCAP, and Dupont as examples of companies taking a pro-active approach to road risk management but gave tips to other companies looking to improve their road safety.
“You can measure things like the perception that workers have that their bosses are committed to workplace safety above other objectives. It’s a demonstration of clear commitment and a sense ‘safely is the way we do things around here’. When you have that culture of safety, then crash rates are likely to be lower.”
With specific emphasis on the trucking industry, Mooren highlighted fatigue as one of the biggest issue and stressed that trucking companies can help mitigate their risk following some simple steps.
“Do they (staff) get paid for waiting time, for loading and unloading? That’s a big issue for fatigue. I’ve spoken to drivers who say they start at 6pm and then they wait for sometimes up to four hours for their trucks to be loaded, which means that when they start driving, they’re already not fresh when setting out to drive all night.
“A lot of the industry is still being paid on a piecemeal basis, and that can be per kilometre or per truckload. This encourages drivers to work longer hours and do more shifts. When drivers get paid a regular wage per hour, day or week, they are less encouraged to work excessive hours,” Mooren continued.