Truck driver Shane Day had faced the serious charges in a Sydney court after his oil tanker turned over and went on fire in the horrific incident. The court heard it was a mechanical defect which caused the incident to occur. A nationwide audit of his employer Cootes found hundreds of defects in the trucking fleet. The fleet was grounded and the company was fined $500,000.
“The driver carried the entire burden for an industry in crisis when facing these charges. Neither the transport company nor the client whose fuel he was carrying were in the dock over corners they cut which led to safety risks,” said TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon.
“If someone is killed because a vehicle is not maintained properly or because the driver is pushed to work long hours then justice can only be served when those responsible are held to account,” Sheldon added.
Major retailers and manufacturers are continually cutting transport costs. This forces transport operators to spend less on their trucks, pressures drivers to break the law and cut their rates. Because of this trucks are not maintained, vehicles are over loaded and drivers are forced to skip breaks, drive faster, for longer hours in a stressed and tired state.
This is why trucking is Australia’s deadliest profession with drivers 15 times more likely to die at work than any other profession. It is also the reason for 330 deaths every year in truck-related crashes.
The TWU has called for a national auditing, education and industrial rights fund paid into by all employers along the supply chain. This fund would ensure companies are meeting safety obligations and that those at the top of supply chains are being held to account for work carried out for them. The fund would also educate employers on their obligations while training drivers on safety and their rights at work.
“Responsibility for carnage on our roads needs to go all the way up the supply chain. Prosecutors, governments and regulators must look at the chain of responsibility laws and ensure they are capable of holding those ultimately to blame for the daily tragedies to account,” Sheldon added.