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General Transport

NO RESPONSE FROM FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AS SIX DIE OVER THREE DAYS IN HORROR TRUCK CRASHES

August 22, 2018

*** MEDIA RELEASE ***

NO RESPONSE FROM FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AS SIX DIE OVER THREE DAYS IN HORROR TRUCK CRASHES

August 22, 2018

The Transport Workers’ Union has slammed the Federal Government for playing politics while six people died in horrific truck crashes in just three days.

Three people died in a crash with an oil tanker in Bowen today, which follows the deaths of a young mother and her 10-year-old son in Corrigin, WA, and an elderly woman in Windsor, NSW.

The deaths occurred as a Monash University report yesterday showed truck driving is Australia’s deadliest industry, with drivers 13 times more likely to die than any other worker.

“Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who have died in these crashes. The evidence is there to show how dangerous this industry is and now we have the devastation of the last few days. We have had no response from the Federal Government which is too busy playing politics to acknowledge the slaughter which is occurring on our roads. This Government was warned that this level of horror would occur before they abolished a road safety watchdog two years ago but they went ahead and did it anyway. Now our families and our communities are paying the price,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.

Truck drivers are in Canberra today explaining the need for change in the industry to address the high number of deaths and injuries in truck crashes.

Since the Government shut down the road safety watchdog, 419 people have died in truck crashes. The watchdog was investigating safety in trucking, and addressing the pressure by wealthy retailers and manufacturers on transport operators and truck drivers which sees faulty trucks on the roads and drivers pushed to drive long hours, speed and skip their mandatory rest breaks.

The Federal Government’s own report showed the watchdog was cutting truck crashes by 28%*.

The Monash study shows there were 545 compensated fatalities among truck drivers over a 12-year period. The study also shows work-related injuries and diseases resulted in over 120,000 accepted compensation claims between 2004 and 2015. This amounted to over 1 million lost weeks of work.

Click here for the Monash report

Click here for the highlights of the Monash report

NOTES:

  1. Truck crash deaths statistics

Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics fatal truck crash statistics 

Safe Work workplace fatality statistics

  1. Safe Rates

In April 2016 the Federal Government abolished a system backing safe rates that was holding wealthy clients such as retailers, banks, oil companies and ports to account for low cost contracts, which do not allow their goods to be delivered safely. This was despite the Government’s own reports showing a link between road safety and the pay rates of drivers and that the safe rates system would reduce truck crashes by 28%*.

  1. Evidence of pressure

A Macquarie University study in February criticised a “critical gap” since the Government abolished the regulation that the independent tribunal represented, “that can eliminate existing incentives for overly tight scheduling, unpaid work, and rates that effectively are below cost recovery”.

The study also showed that:

  • One in 10 truck drivers work over 80 hours per week.
  • One in six owner drivers say drivers can’t refuse an unsafe load
  • 42% of owner drivers said the reason drivers do not report safety breaches was because of a fear of losing their jobs

A Safe Work Australia report in July 2015 showed:

  • 31% of transport employers say workers ignore safety rules to get the job done
  • 20% of transport employers accept dangerous behaviour, compared to less than 2% in other industries.
  • 20% of transport industry employers break safety rules to meet deadlines – this compares with just 6% of employers in other industries.
  1. Senate report on road safety

In October the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee approved a report recommending industry-led talks to set up an independent body on “supply chain standards and accountability as well as sustainable, safe rates for the transport industry".

* PricewaterhouseCoopers “Review of the Road Safety Remuneration System Final Report January 2016” (PWC Review 2016 – published by the Commonwealth Department of Employment on 1 April 2016)