An action plan to reduce workplace injury and illness in the NSW road freight transport industry has been launched by WorkCover NSW at Orange.

The industry is one of the states’ 10 highest risk industries with 5,512 injuries and illness and 29 fatalities in the three years to 2010, costing the NSW workers compensation scheme $157 million.

It includes bulk freight, long and short distance trucking companies, intrastate transfer of retail and wholesale goods as well as interstate movement of bulk goods and containers.

The Industry Action Plan identifies four issues that WorkCover and industry will address to make the State’s more than 9,000 road freight transport businesses more productive, healthy and safe.

The Plan was launched at Orange transport business, Ron Finemore Transport by General Manager of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division, John Watson and Industry Action Plan Partners who had collaborated on the development of the Plan.

“The complex nature of the road freight transport industry due to contractual relationships and extensive outsourcing results in numerous parties having a responsibility for safety,” Mr Watson said.

“The majority of employers are small businesses while some larger employers engage independent sub-contractors to transport goods with others operating their own fleet and employing their own drivers.

“By consulting with business, industry and workers, we have a better understanding of health and safety issues and can take actionto address them.”
Mr Watson said the four issues identified in the Industry Action Plan were onsite traffic management systems, loading of trucks and getting out of trucks, return to work and injury management, and driver wellness.

“Inadequate traffic management is a factor in many injuries and fatalities where workers are stuck by vehicles in loading areas,” Mr Watson said.
“Muscular and skeletal injuries are also common when loading and unloading trucks, and getting in and out of trucks.

“We also found there is a need to improve return to work practices through better understanding of the requirements and benefits of getting workers back to work as soon as possible.

Ron Finemore, Transport Chairman and Chairman of the NSW Freight Advisory Council, said the Industry Action Plan provided a road map to improving safety across the state.

“This plan provides a deeper understanding of the safety issues across our diverse industry,” Mr Finemore said.

“By giving industry stakeholders a role in shaping the solutions, I am confident they will lead to a significant improvement in safety.”

The action plan partners who will work with WorkCover on the Plan are NatRoad, Australian Trucking Association (NSW branch), Australian Long Distance Owner Drivers Association, Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation NSW Branch, Livestock & Bulk Carriers Association, Australian Retailers Association, Transport Workers Union, Road and Maritime Services and NSW Police.