The sh*t shovel hangs on a tree at a well-used rest area in Mount Boyce NSW. It highlights the problems of rest areas that line haul truck drivers face.
Facilities at rest areas across the country are inadequate. In NSW we know of one driver who carries a milk crate with a toilet seat cable tied to the top, designed so he can at least sit down on the job somewhere.
Our members that tell us it can be nearly impossible to manage your fatigue safely when there are insufficient sites and a lack of shade and toilets. There is often no shade for daylight rest and there is no recognition of the lack of truck rest areas.
The NSW TWU Safety and Research Inspector is on the road. He’s a former line haul driver telling us, “There are some places you just would not want to pull up, in one rest area I had to stop another driver going in to use a toilet, telling him ‘Don’t go in there – there is sh*t all over the handle and syringes all over the floor’.”
Governments; the people who have the duty of care are ignoring all of us.
Vast amounts of taxpayer cash is funnelled into road projects including the new NorthConnex tunnel, designed to boost productivity. Yet the NorthConnex significantly reduces the places a driver can stop and will rort from them over $23 in tolls after forcing them to use the road.
The ask is not hard. Drivers need adequate, separated parking space, free of caravan users; clean and well stocked toilets and shower facilities and where possible the chance to get food. We all know that a driver is looking for those amenities that make their journey more comfortable, and in the long run, safer.
We have been gathering the evidence. Right now, we want governments and local councils to do better. A strategy must be in place that builds adequately provisioned and properly maintained rest areas across our road network.
Rest areas are a significant part of ensuring a safer day at work for drivers. Whilst the industry continues to face uncertainty due to Covid-19, we know that it is vital we protect the rights for a safer workplace and the right for good industry rates and conditions. We want to ensure that those who use the industry for the movement of their goods are adequately contributing to the safety and security of a transport worker’s job.
When it comes to rest areas, the safety of Transport Workers and all road users is a shared responsibility and right now governments are failing in their duty of care.
If you would like to take part in the fight for a safer and fairer transport industry go to this web page: https://www.twu.com.au/join/
- Richard Olsen is the state secretary of TWU NSW.