Dairy industry gets behind new safety initiative

A new safety initiative has been launched after dairy tankers were found to be 2.4 times more likely to be involved in a major crash than other freight transport.

Key stakeholders across the dairy supply chain, including consignors, carriers and processors, have joined the initiative Spilt Milk: A National Crash Reduction Program for the Dairy Industry, which is funded through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative supported by the Australian Government, and led by transport and logistics specialist insurer, NTI.

NTI chief sustainability officer, Chris Hogarty, said four of the largest dairy carriers and three of the largest processors have signed on.

“While the dairy industry has a history of excellent, but isolated, initiatives to improve the safety performance of milk tankers, the aim of the ‘Spilt Milk’ project is to bring together key stakeholders, expertise, and initiatives, to deliver whole-of-industry solutions to this whole-of-industry issue,” Hogarty said.

“The goal is to reduce dairy tanker rollovers and improve road safety by working with drivers, fleet managers and consignors,” he says, noting a similar education program in Victoria’s forestry industry resulted in a 65 per cent reduction in rollovers, from 29 in a year to FY20 being rollover free.

Dairy tankers have unique engineering and physical attributes as well as a unique operating environment that make them particularly susceptible to rollovers – which make it difficult for even experienced drivers to predict.

“This is about protecting drivers and protecting the environment because dairy tanker crashes not only put those behind the wheel and road users at risk but can cause milk and diesel spills,” Hogarty said.

“We need to improve education and training resources to better share knowledge about the best and safest ways for the dairy transport industry to operate. In the past, traditional rollover training has been difficult to access or too expensive and we know reaching drivers is critical to effectively address this safety issue.”

“Keeping Australian industry moving toward a safer and more sustainable future is our priority and this program is another example of NTI working with industry to achieve that.”

NHVR chief executive officer, Sal Petroccitto, added that the project has benefits for the entire dairy transport supply chain.

“Milk, like all harvest goods, must be secured to meet the loading performance standards and for the safety of the heavy vehicle industry and all road users,” Petroccitto said.

“Through Spilt Milk, drivers, fleet managers and maintenance providers across the dairy transport supply chain will receive targeted education to prevent rollovers and keep our industry and our roads safe.”

Training materials, including templates and instructional videos, are now being developed as Phase 2 of Spilt Milk begins, headed by NTI transport research manager Adam Gibson, and Australian trucking safety services and solutions director Alan Pincott.

The pair have travelled the country engaging with participants to identify current best practice as well as known safety concerns.

Gibson said the key is making sure everyone is part of the process, and understands how the project is going to be impactful for them.

“A lot of people are doing great things in the dairy space. The opportunity is to find individual pockets of brilliance and share them more widely,” he said.

“There is a net benefit to all participants to share things they don’t compete on such as safety.”

The materials, and sharing of best practice, could be rolled out to front-line staff, including drivers, as early as June this year.

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