Many Australian truck drivers continue to work long hours and carry unsafe loads to avoid losing their jobs, according to new research.
The major study, evaluating approaches to regulating work health and safety (WHS) in the Australian road freight transport industry, was carried out by Macquarie University and UNSW Canberra.
“On the one hand we have well-managed businesses saying they have the safety issue under control, and on the other hand we have drivers telling us they suffer injuries and daily near-misses, and that every day could be their last,” said study author Dr Sharron O’Neill, a senior lecturer at UNSW Canberra’s School of Business.
The research mapped an intricate web of risk factors.
“The issue is not just about road crashes,” said Dr O’Neill, who conducted the study while based at Macquarie University.
“Many fatalities and serious injuries occur in truck yards and depots, when the vehicle is still or moving slowly. Of great concern is the fact that while individual incidents are on their way down, incident severity is trending upwards.
“This suggests the industry is getting much better at managing the minor risks but is losing sight of some of the major ones.”
The study also examined the complex mix of regulation that exists in Australia to help ensure truck driver safety.
The results revealed that while safety for many drivers was well-managed, a significant minority had a very different experience.
“There is a lot to be learned from the findings, but I suspect many in the industry will react very positively to our feedback,” said Dr O’Neill.
The study illustrates the need for a simplified mix of regulation and better enforcement that ensures better accountability across the entire chain of responsibility.
Read more about the findings of this study here. Story credit: University of New South Wales newsroom.
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