A guilty verdict against Cleanaway following the deaths of two people on the South Eastern Freeway in 2014 highlights the need for reform of the trucking industry, the Transport Workers’ Union has warned.
The charges relate to workplace safety offences with courts over the years hearing that the driver of the truck had not been adequately trained and that the trucking company knew the truck’s brakes were faulty.
TWU SA/NT Branch Secretary Ian Smith welcomed the guilty verdict, after two people had lost their lives and the truck driver was severely injured and initially charged, but said that the entire supply chain should be investigated.
“We welcome the guilty verdict against Cleanaway which has come far too many years after this tragedy occurred. Families and communities have been devastated by this crash and it has taken over six years for this verdict,” he said.
“While welcome, this guilty verdict will not prevent this type of tragedy from occurring again. Every day there are similar issues occurring on our roads around the country, where trucks are not maintained, drivers are not adequately trained and are pushed to speed, work long hours and drive fatigued. If we want to see an end to tragedies like this then we need to put in place a body which can prevent truck crashes and which can investigate risks to safety in trucking,” Smith said.
“Five years ago this week the Federal Government tore down an independent tribunal which was investigating risks to safety in trucking, including the waste industry. It was looking at training, pay rates and the pressure to deliver goods without prioritizing safety. Nothing has been put in its place and people are dying as a result,” he added.
In the last five years 885 people have died in truck crashes across Australia, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. In 2019, 58 transport workers died at work, a jump from 38 deaths in 2018, according to Safe Work Australia.