Urgent worker safety reform still needed in trucking

The transport industry is a critical component of the supply chain, responsible for the efficient movement of goods.

However, it is devastating to see that time and time again, the well-being and safety of truck drivers, who are the backbone of this industry, are often overlooked.

It is imperative for major companies within the trucking sector to recognise their responsibility to prioritise worker safety and urgently implement necessary reforms.

There exists a pressing need for transformative changes that not only protect truck drivers but also enhance working conditions and foster a culture of safety within the trucking industry.

Truck drivers face numerous challenges and risks while performing their job. The long hours spent on the road, demanding schedules, and extended periods away from home contribute to physical and mental strain.

Fatigue, stress, and isolation are prevalent issues that can impair drivers’ performance and compromise road safety. It is high time for major companies to acknowledge these challenges and take proactive measures to improve working conditions for truck drivers.

Tragically, this year alone, we have witnessed 99 people losing their lives in truck-involved accidents on NSW roads, as of May 31, 2023.

Fatigue continues to be a significant concern within the trucking industry, directly impacting the safety of both drivers and other road users. The relentless pressure exerted by major companies onto transport workers is nothing short of deadly.

Across the industry, profit-driven clients seek to narrow profit margins as much as possible and sell contracts to the lowest bidder. This forces transport operators to cut corners, ultimately resulting in preventable truck crashes and financial ruin for these transport companies.

Recognising the urgency of the situation, we have initiated bargaining discussions with several major transport companies in NSW.

We firmly believe that reforming the transport industry requires collaborative efforts among major companies, industry associations, and regulatory bodies. It is crucial for these stakeholders to come together, establish industry-wide safety standards, enforce stricter regulations, and ensure compliance across the board.

Major companies need to utilise their influence and advocate for comprehensive safety reforms within the industry.

By doing so, they can play a pivotal role in promoting a culture of safety and accountability throughout the entire trucking sector. It is not only about adhering to regulations but also about going above and beyond to protect the lives and well-being of truck drivers.

Moreover, these reforms must address the underlying systemic issues that perpetuate unsafe working conditions. Major companies need to reassess their business models and consider factors beyond mere profit margins. Emphasising the value of human life and prioritising worker safety should be at the forefront of their operations.

Implementing transformative changes within the trucking industry will require a multi-faceted approach. It entails investing in driver training programs that focus on safe driving techniques, defensive driving, and hazard recognition.

It also necessitates the integration of advanced safety technologies in trucks, such as collision avoidance systems, automatic emergency braking, and lane departure warning systems.

Collaboration between major companies, industry associations, and regulatory bodies is key to achieving these reforms.

By working together, we can establish a safer and more sustainable trucking industry that prioritises the well-being and safety of its workers. Let’s seize this opportunity to create lasting change and ensure a brighter future for truck drivers and road users alike.

  • Richard Olsen is TWU NSW/QLD state secretary

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