YET another new study supports what we’ve been saying for years.
A landmark 12-year study conducted by Monash University recently made the news.
It was undertaken in partnership with the Transport Workers’ Union and Linfox Logistics, but the research was independently conducted.
Its findings were considered shocking to the media and the general public.
It was hotly discussed on prime-time TV and talk-back radio, and was regarded by most commentators as a wake-up call for the industry.
But none of it comes as much of a surprise to truck drivers, or to us.
The study’s research found that driving a truck is the most dangerous job in Australia.
That truck drivers had a 13 times higher risk of dying at work than other Australian workers, as well as a higher risk of illness, psychological stress and other injuries.
That three quarters of truck driver fatalities were due to crashes.
That drivers will take an average of five weeks off work due to work-related musculoskeletal injuries – the most common form of injury for truck drivers – and an average of 10 weeks off for work-related mental health conditions.
I quote directly from the report’s overview:
“Longhaul truck drivers may be exposed to multiple risk factors in their workplace including long working hours, sedentary roles, poor access to nutritious food, social isolation, shift work, time pressure, low levels of job control, and fatigue. A study conducted by Macquarie University, which surveyed 559 truck drivers, found that a high proportion of participants reported working long hours carrying unsafe loads. More than 10 per cent of truck drivers stated that they worked more than 80 hours a week and over 80 per cent reported working more than 50 hours per week.”
We’ve been saying this for years in our campaign for change, only for it to fall on deaf ears at a government level. Comprehensive and consistent research shows that economic pressure is overwhelmingly the biggest factor contributing to poor driver health and road safety outcomes.
A 2010 survey by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health came to this conclusion, as did a 2008 report by the National Transport Commission in Australia.
In 2015, trucking employers, labour organisations and 25 international governments went one step further, signing a momentous, tripartite global consensus agreement at the International Labour Office in Geneva, which said that they all agreed on the facts: that low rates of pay for heavy vehicle drivers are linked to dangerous road safety outcomes.
Even the Turnbull Government’s own 2016 Review of the Road Safety Remuneration System found this – but they shut down the independent road safety watchdog anyway.
This is a matter of life and death, and that is why we continue to campaign for Safe Rates legislation that removes that dangerous economic pressure and ensures there is accountability at every level of the supply chain.
How many more studies will the Federal Government need before it finally comes to the table? And how many more people will die before that day comes?