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Warehouses falling short in COVID-19 fight

April 9, 2020

Western Australian Senator Glenn Sterle has written to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack, outlining concerns about poor hygiene practices in distribution centres amidst the COVID-19 crisis.

Mr Sterle said he has received reports that at some warehouses:

  • no adequate sanitation facilities are available;
  • at some distribution centres, drivers are forced to use the same phone to enter the site as the driver before them without any cleaning materials being supplied;
  • communal pens are being offered to sign paperwork;
  • forklifts aren’t being cleaned in between different people using them;
  • staff at distribution centres seem to adopt appropriate social distancing measures behind their locked office doors and have access to PPE equipment, however that is not being offered to drivers when they arrive to load/unload;
  • sign-in areas are dirty and are not being cleaned on a regular basis; and
  • social distancing measures are not being practiced or enforced in waiting areas.

“The last thing we need is an outbreak at a distribution centre,” Mr Sterle said.

“During this COVID-19 pandemic, adequate safety measures and sensible hygiene practices must be carried out at distribution centres in order to guarantee the health of our truck drivers.

“Australia’s supply chain depends on their health and their ability to be able to carry out their job safely.”

Mr Sterle called for the urgent formation of consultative working group of all the state-based transport associations; the National Road Transport Association, Livestock and Rural Transporters Association, National Road Freighters Association, Transport Workers Union Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

This group understands the problems and can provide the government with solutions, Mr Sterle told Mr McCormack.

“As the Prime Minister continues to say, we are all in this together,” Mr Sterle said.