January 12, 2017

The TWU has urged the Federal Government to stop ignoring the high death toll within the transportation sector, as Safe Work Australia statistics for 2016 show that more than one in three workers killed last year were transport workers.

TWU (Vic/Tas Branch) Acting Secretary Chris Fennell said while one workplace death was always too many, the 63 lives lost from the transport industry – out of a total of 176 work-related deaths Australia-wide last year – was nothing short of a tragic waste of life.

“This Union and its members fight each and every day for safer workplaces,” Chris said.

“These battles have led to some vast improvements in workplace safety over the years and our delegates, occupational health and safety representatives and organisers ensure workplace health and safety standards are being maintained.

“But, obviously, there is still much more that authorities can do to ensure workers get home at the end of their shifts and to save more families being left to pick up the pieces.”

The next highest industry for fatalities was agriculture at 40 deaths.

A safety summit organised by the TWU will take place early next month, bringing together academics, industry and regulators to discuss solutions to the crisis.

TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon said the Federal Government was “doing nothing about the carnage”.

“Last year they tore down an independent tribunal (the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal) investigating the pressures on road transport workers that cause truck crashes and now they have no solution to this crisis. Transport workers have a right to be safe at work, the Government needs to honour that right,” he said .

“The Federal Transport Minister recently acknowledged the role that fatigue plays in truck crashes. The only real way to tackle this problem is to ensure drivers are not pressured into driving longer hours. That means stopping the squeeze by the big retailers and manufacturers on the transport supply chain.”

Safe Work Australia figures show that transport workers are already the largest category of workers killed so far in 2017.

This week a truck driver was killed near Drewvale on the Logan Motorway, south of Brisbane and, last week, another truck driver was killed at King’s Park in Sydney’s west. On January 3rd, two truck drivers died following a crash between their trucks in the Riverina.

In the 10 years to 2014 over 2,500 truck drivers and other road users died in truck crashes.

If you are experiencing workplace safety issues or know of employers forcing drivers into unsafe practices, speak to your delegate, organiser or contact the TWU (Vic/Tas Branch) on 1300 727 614.


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