Wealthy retailers and manufacturers are constantly reducing their transport contracts, forcing operators to cut back on truck maintenance, the TWU said.
“Operators are having to chose between getting brakes fixed, getting new tyres and keeping their businesses going. Bringing in more checks on their vehicles will not solve the problem of dodgy trucks on our roads. The inherent crisis with the supply chain needs to be looked at and these wealthy clients must be held to account,” said TWU SA/NT branch secretary Ian Smith.
“A road safety watchdog which was abolished last year by the Federal Government was investigating risks to safety in transport and holding wealthy clients responsible for the rates paid. The Government has failed to put any alternative body in place and road users are paying for this with their lives,” Smith added.
A Safe Work Australia report has shown pressure on transport operators results in major risks to safety. It found:
• 31% of employers say workers ignore safety rules to get the job done
• 20% 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.
The financial pressure on trucking companies also results in drivers forced to drive long hours, speed and skip mandatory rest breaks. This pressure results in deaths on the road. In 2015 a SA coroner’s report on the death of Jon Posnakidis in a truck crash found the brakes on the truck were faulty and that it was being driven by an inexperienced driver who’d had a “gruelling work schedule”. The transport operator which employed him was being chased by creditors after a previous transport company went bankrupt.
Fatal crashes involving articulated trucks across Australia have increased by 9.4% this year, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics. Safe Work Australia data shows that almost 40% of all workplace deaths involved transport workers this year.