The New South Wales road freight transport industry is the focus of a new safety action plan launched last week by WorkCover NSW.
The Industry Action Plan was announced by WorkCover general manager of Work Health and Safety John Watson at Ron Finemore Transport in Orange on May 14, where he was joined by Industry Action Plan Partners who had helped develop it.
Included in the plan’s remit are bulk freight movers, long and short distance trucking companies, intrastate movement of retail and wholesale goods, and interstate transfer of bulk goods and containers.
Mr Watson said that ensuring safe practice in the road freight industry was complicated, as there were many contractual relationships and outsourcing arrangements in place.
This had the effect of dividing up the responsibility for safety among numerous different parties.
“The majority of employers are small businesses while some larger employers engage independent sub-contractors to transport goods with others operating their own fleet and employing their own drivers,” said Mr Watson.
“By consulting with business, industry and workers, we have a better understanding of health and safety issues and can take action to address them.”
WorkCover has identified the road freight transport industry as one of NSW’s most high risk.
During the three years to 2010, there were 29 workplace fatalities and 5,512 injuries, at a cost of $157 million to the NSW workers compensation scheme.
Sometimes, work injuries can be so severe that they prevent victims from being able to return to their jobs.
This can put significant financial pressure on the individual and their family. In such cases it may be possible to seek a lump sum Personal Disability payment through superannuation or insurance policies.
The Industry Action Plan focuses on four major issues in workplaces: onsite traffic management, the manual loading and unloading of trucks, the return to work of injured workers, and overall wellness.
“Inadequate traffic management is a factor in many injuries and fatalities where workers are struck by vehicles in loading areas,” said Mr Watson.
“Muscular and skeletal injuries are also common when loading and unloading trucks, and getting in and out of trucks.”
Chairman of the NSW Freight Advisory Council Ron Finemore said he was confident the initiative would lead to safety improvements.
“This plan provides a deeper understanding of the safety issues across our diverse industry.”