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Everyone can improve, Supply Chain Safety Summit concludes

September 26, 2019


Participants at the 2019 ALC & ATA Supply Chain Safety Summit have identified a number of areas where government, regulators and the industry itself can continue to improve.

The two-day event, jointly hosted by the Australian Logistics Council and Australian Trucking Association, took place in Sydney last week to “set out a number of priority actions for governments, industry and the community to collaboratively pursue over the next year to deliver stronger safety outcomes across the supply chain”.

Government representatives, safety management innovators, regulators, policy-makers and freight transport industry members spoke at the summit.

Changing ‘ineffective and meaningless practices’ to focus on safety

“A series of keynote addresses challenged our traditional methods of managing and measuring safety risks, emphasising that we need to identify and remove the ineffective and meaningless practices that make no material difference to safety, and in some cases even increase the risks,” the summit’s concluding statement notes.

“The Summit learned how technological innovation can deliver more effective safety training, how organisations are dealing with mental health challenges in the workplace and what regulators are doing to support on-road and off-road compliance.

“Delegates also heard directly from those who have been personally affected by catastrophic incidents and from heavy vehicle drivers on what they need to make their working lives safer and easier.”

8 areas to improve

Through panel discussions and interactive workshops held at the summit, participants identified areas in which supply chain safety can continue to improve. These included:

  1. Rethinking the bureaucratic practices that are increasingly being used to define safety management. Some within the industry are finding safety documentation increasingly complex and time-consuming to complete. The focus needs to return to identifying and managing actual risks, rather than completing paperwork.”
  1. Stepping up efforts to reduce duplication throughout the auditing system for heavy vehicle safety. This includes working to develop a set of common audit standards and standard auditing qualifications, so that there is industry confidence about the quality of audits and the quality of auditors.
  1. Countering the ‘tick and flick’ culture in safety management. There is little research indicating that forms and checklists are greatly effective in addressing safety risks. We need to transition from measuring activity to measuring outcomes.
  1. Clarifying the roles of regulators in safety. Some industry participants are finding it difficult to understand the demarcation of responsibilities between the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and various state-based work health and safety agencies in the regulation of safety
  1. Mental health is everyone’s business. Industry needs to continue its efforts to ‘normalise’ discussion about mental health in the workplace and ensure jobs are designed to minimise risks to mental health. Industry should be supported in building mental health awareness into workforce training modules.
  1. Further support is needed to address alcohol and drug issues. There is a clear relationship between mental health issues and substance abuse in the workplace. Governments should support industry to develop specific initiatives that will allow organisations to respond effectively to alcohol and drug misuse, and ensure those affected get support they need.
  1. First aid training is vital. Not all incidents occur in populated areas, or locations to which first responders have ready access. All industry participants should be supported to ensure they are trained in first aid – and to ensure their first aid qualifications remain up to date.
  1. Advances in technology should be embraced within safety management. This includes promoting the collection of data through telematics to manage safety risks, taking advantage of apps that can help track and support those dealing with mental health challenges, and embracing the use of technology such as virtual reality to enhance the quality of workplace safety training.”

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