Zero tolerance on workplace deaths

EMPLOYEES in the Australian transport and logistics industry are far more likely to die at work than other employees — a frightening truth that is set to be urgently addressed, according to the ALC.

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) this week hosted its inaugural National T&L Safety Summit in Melbourne, bringing together 85 senior industry leaders to debate the safety improvements required in the transport and logistics field. Delegates unanimously supported and adopted a new ‘Vision Zero’ approach to safety.

“I find it alarming that it is four times more likely that a worker dies in our industry than the average Australian industry — it’s a stark and unacceptable statistic,” says ALC chief executive Hal Morris.

“Our early discussion at the safety summit was around meeting national safety percentage targets — the traditional approach — but delegates quickly determined that a new mindset is required.”

“An incremental approach is no longer justifiable. We’re not prepared to accept that anybody dies on the job. This is a turning point in the national attitude of our industry to safety.”

Morris says industry leaders agree that safety was not related to industry competitiveness and they would openly share their experiences and initiatives to work towards the Vision Zero goal.

He says a safer industry would go a long way towards attracting new young workers to the sector — a vital factor given the skills shortage that is hurting many industries across the nation.

“If it’s likely they are going to get killed or maimed working in our industry, that’s a really hard sell. So we need to clean up our act and become a desirable place to work.”

To move towards Vision Zero, the summit voted to recognise that safety is a supply chain issue rather than an individual transport modal issue.

“To date, we’ve thought about it as rail safety or road safety or air safety, and to an extent that’s still going to be important,” Morris says.

“But increasingly because of the integration of logistics chains, safety is also an integrated issue.”

Summit delegates called for the ALC to lead the development of a single industry code for safety, rather than the disparate codes that currently exist.

The ALC was also requested to continue its role in advocating safety improvements on behalf of the transport and logistics industry, and to work with unions and the National Transport Commission to establish a national safety group; develop a national safety charter and codes; exchange information; and lobby government for improved incident and safety statistics reporting.

The safety summit was chaired by Ingilby Dickson, VP Logistics & Procurement, BlueScope Steel and executive member of the ALC, and run with financial support from the National Transport Commission.

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