Covid study releases findings for transport industry

Three years on from the Covid-19 pandemic, its impact on global and Australian supply chains has diminished. However, transport workers still suffer significant health and mental health effects.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) has a long and proud history of advocating for the wellbeing of transport workers. While the focus often falls on physical dangers such as road accidents and injuries, the psycho-social hazards and psychological harm they frequently face are often overlooked.

The pandemic highlighted these mental health challenges as transport workers risked their health, continuing to work and deliver the goods which Australians relied upon every day amid Covid.

Despite state and federal governments praising transport and logistics workers for keeping the country moving during the crisis, it is crucial for Australia to prepare for future pandemics that could once again disrupt essential supply chains.

The Transport Education Audit Compliance Health Organisation (TEACHO), a leading health and safety advocate in Australia’s transport industry, has released findings from a comprehensive research project on infection control, transport workers’ health, and supply chain resilience during the pandemic.

Conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Health Equity Training, Research and Evaluation (CHETRE) at the University of New South Wales, the study makes several key recommendations including tailoring infection control – including pandemic prevention – to the different types of activity conducted across the transport sector, providing ongoing education and training programs to ensure consistent infection prevention and control measures, even during non-pandemic times.

It also suggested collaborating with government agencies to create stockpiles of essential supplies, including PPE and sanitisation equipment, strategically located across transport networks, engaging transport sector leaders in pandemic-focused planning and decision-making, actively seeking their input to foster ownership and cultivate a sense of responsibility.

Implementing routine health monitoring and testing for transport workers to enable early detection and containment of potential outbreaks was also essential, alongside advocating for the development and implementation of clear and consistent infection prevention and control measures for borders throughout Australia to the federal government.

These recommendations have been submitted to the Commonwealth Government Covid-19 Response Inquiry and shared with state and federal parliamentarians, industry associations and regulators.

Transport workers are the backbone of the supply chain, ensuring the uninterrupted flow of essential goods such as food, medical supplies, and other critical items.

During a pandemic, when demand for these goods can spike unpredictably, the health and availability of transport workers become even more crucial.

If transport workers fall ill in large numbers, it could lead to significant delays and shortages, putting immense pressure on the healthcare system and causing widespread public distress. Ensuring their health is maintained is vital for the continuous operation of these essential services.

The hope is that if Australia faces a similar situation in future, we can be confident employers are prepared, the workforce is safe and we can all continue to do what we are here to do – keep the country moving.

  • Richard Olsen is the TWU’s NSW/Qld state secretary.

1 Comment

  1. The biggest scam in our history. It all ends when we say NO. Never again. Our fallen elders sacrificed their lives for nothing. Polies have sold us out.

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