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SA implements new rules for truck drivers entering the state

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The South Australian government has introduced a new requirement for all essential travellers, including truck drivers, crossing the state border.

Effective from 11 May 2020, anyone entering South Australia is required to keep records of close contacts from their date of arrival in the state for up to a 14-day period.

“An essential traveller must now keep records of close contacts for a 14 day period commencing on the date of their arrival in South Australia (or, if they remain in South Australia for a period of less than 14 days, for that period),” the South Australian Police force (SAPOL) said.

“A person is a close contact of another person if they are in the company of the other person —

(i) within an enclosed space for a period of 2 hours or longer; or

(ii) within 1.5 metres of the other person for a period of 15 minutes or longer; and

The records that are required to be kept in relation to a close contact are —

(i) the name and phone number or other contact details of the close contact and the location at which the close contact occurred; or

(ii) if the details are not known and it is not reasonably practicable to obtain those details—the time during which and location at which the close contact occurred.

“The records must be retained for a period of 28 days from the end of the period for which the records must be kept and be provided to an authorised officer on request.”

The South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) said that SAPOL had issued this direction without any consultation with or advice to the industry, given those affected barely 32 hours’ notice of the new record-keeping requirements.

“SARTA has sought an urgent review of this Direction and an explanation of the basis for the distinction being made between the categories of Essential Travellers who are exempted from this record keeping requirement and those, including truck drivers, who aren’t exempted,” SARTA said in an online statement.

New videos focus on truck drivers’ health and welfare

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Federal Road Safety and Freight Transport Assistant Minister Scott Buchholz has commended the producers of a three-part video series that provides advice to truck drivers on diet, exercise and mental health.

“I want to congratulate Whiteline Television for their great work on the new physical and mental health videos to support heavy vehicle drivers,” Mr Buchholz said.

“The health of all truckies is as important now as it’s ever been.

“Truck drivers have been one of the unsung heroes in recent months ensuring the most basic of day-to-day essentials continued to be delivered and communities stay connected through the movement of freight.

“I want to thank all of our transport operators and truck drivers for the amazing work they have been doing, keeping shelves stocked and essential freight moving.

“We don’t thank our drivers enough but during this pandemic, the importance of their work has been on display.”

Whiteline Television Executive Producer Stephen McCarthy said the videos are the result of interviews with long-haul drivers who have shared their tips and experiences about managing life on the road.

“We travelled the country to catch up with a range of long haul drivers,” Mr McCarthy said.

“I would particularly like to thank Bruce Dodd, Heather Jones, Brendan McDonald, Peter Harris and Monica and Daniel Constable who were willing to pass on their knowledge and tips in straightforward and down-to-earth language.”

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) CEO Sal Petroccitto said that this series of three short videos has added to the important ongoing conversations about driver welfare.

“The average age for Australia’s truck drivers is mid-40s and many are away from their homes and families for long periods of time,” Mr Petroccitto said.

“At the same time the challenges have never been greater and truckies’ health and wellbeing is vital, whether it’s somewhere to pull up for a rest or looking after themselves with a bit of exercise.

“And just talking about mental and physical health is an important first step.”

The videos can be found at www.truckingnation.com.au.

COVID-19 ‘an excuse’ to delay paying drivers: NatRoad

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The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) has welcomed forthcoming changes to Victoria’s Drivers and Forestry Contractors Amendment Bill 2019 which directly impacts on invoicing payment terms for owner drivers.

Effective from 1 May 2020, the state’s legislative change will require payment of invoices within 30 days of receiving an invoice from contractors where the contractor is an owner driver.

“Cashflow is the single biggest reason for small businesses going under and many large businesses are paying invoices well beyond 30 days,” NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said.

“Unfortunately, many are using Covid-19 as an excuse to push payment times out even further.”

NatRoad said it hopes the changes in Victoria can help reduce the uncertainty and inconsistency of payment times for small transport owner-operators, but that more needs to be done and changes need to be introduced nationally.

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell has recommended that the federal government should adopt a maximum 30-day payment regime, NatRoad said.

“While the federal government has passed its Payment Times Reporting legislation into parliament it is unlikely to result in the systemic change because it is not binding,” Mr Clark said.

NatRoad notes the current Business Council of Australia voluntary supplier payment code that compels signatories to pay smaller suppliers within 30 days has proven to be ineffective, as it has no compliance or audit processes.

NatRoad said the federal adoption of 30-day payment terms is a critical issue as its members struggle through the effects of COVID-19.

NatRoad has been asking the federal government to address this issue for a considerable period. It says the best means of assisting industry and all owner-drivers would be for the federal government to introduce a mandated code for the industry under Part IVB of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).

The code would regulate payment times, permitting a maximum of 30 days from date of invoice, as well as containing a prohibition on set-offs and pay-when-paid arrangements. These are major and long-standing issues affecting the road transport industry that should be fixed now, NatRoad said.

Warehouses falling short in COVID-19 fight

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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.

Coronovirus doesn’t stop truck safety blitz

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Between 16 and 20 March, the NSW Police Traffic Taskforce in conjunction with Transport for NSW conducted Operation Impact Dubbo.

The inspection of 70 vehicles over the five-day period resulted in:

  • 50 traffic charges – ranging from severe and critical fatigue offences, suspended driver, cancelled driver, mid-range prescribed concentration of alcohol and severe dimension breaches;
  • 22 heavy diary administrative infringements;
  • 3 loading offences; and
  • 13 light vehicle infringements for speed and registration offences.

In one intercept inspectors identified dimension breaches as well as fatigue breaches and directed the driver to take 24 hours’ rest. The transport company was contacted to arrange for another driver.

One operator also had three different drivers charged or infringed.

“During the operation one operator was identified as having significant issues with driver fatigue offences, loading issues and general maintenance of their heavy vehicles,” NSW Police said in a statement.

“Three of their fleet were stopped on separate days and each time the driver was either charged or infringed, with one driver having critical fatigue breaches.

“Another operator was also identified as having poor loading practices during a stationary enforcement stop. Items of general freight in a B Double were not restrained at all, the load has shifted and items were damaged as a result. “Officers also had to deploy to alternate routes given what appeared to be a significant decrease in the frequency of heavy vehicles, some being intercepted and prosecuted for the above offences.”

Random stop results in $10K of fines for three parties

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A random breath test of a truck driver has revealed a list of dangerous goods offences, NSW Police has reported. Three parties in the supply chain, including the driver, were fined a total of $10,500.

Police found that the heavy rigid truck carrying 20 250kg drums of toluene disocyanate was missing a dangerous goods placard at the front of the vehicle.

Upon inspection they also found a fire extinguisher attached to the vehicle that was empty, as well as two other fire extinguishers – required to be inspected every six months – that had not been tested since 2018.

The driver also didn’t have the appropriate personal protective equipment – an air supplied short term breathing apparatus – for the chemical he was carrying.

NSW Police said the 22-year-old driver showed no knowledge of the safety equipment he was required to have, nor knew that his fire extinguishers weren’t compliant.

In relation to the placard missing at the front, the driver said “It must of just fallen off, cause it was pretty flimsy”.

The driver was directed to move the truck to a safer location and told to remain there until appropriate safety equipment, fire extinguishers and placards were delivered.

NSW Police fined the driver $500 and the truck company $6,000.

The company that loaded the dangerous goods onto the truck was also fined $4,000. “The Traffic Task Force will continue to monitor the transport of ‘Dangerous Goods’ to ensure ongoing compliance,” NSW Police stated.

NHVR focuses on livestock supply chain safety

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The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is asking for feedback on future safety reforms across the livestock supply chain.

Speaking at the Bulk and Rural Carriers Association Conference 2020 in Tamworth last week, NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said the review will target several areas where Chain of Responsibility (CoR) laws apply to the movement of sheep and cattle.

“We’ve identified a range of issues including loading practices, understanding of mass management and general understanding of regulatory responsibilities,” Mr Petroccitto said.

“There are a number of questions raised about why overloading occurs, the pressures on drivers and how the livestock supply chain are meeting their safety responsibilities.”

The Livestock Supply Chain issues paper states that the movement of sheep and cattle makes up about four per cent of the national freight task, but accounts for more than 10 per cent of accidents. These accidents include a significant number of rollovers.

The average journey for livestock from the farm gate to the processor – which involves stops and transfers between feedlots, saleyards, vehicles and spelling – is estimated to be more than 500km.

Mr Petroccitto said further guidance around livestock loading practices is needed. This follows a review by the NHVR last year into Improvement Notices issued to saleyards in Forbes and Dubbo.

“It’s important we look at what we can do to make these journeys as safe as possible for drivers, livestock and other road users,” he said.

“We are seeking responses to a series of questions about opportunities to improve mass management awareness and practices, and identify tools that will help members of the livestock supply chain in meeting their safety and regulatory responsibilities.”

Information about the Livestock Supply Chain Review can be found here. Stakeholders have until 24 April 2020 to make submissions about the issues raised.

Government must act on climate change, ATA says

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Amid the ongoing bushfire crisis, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has held a teleconference with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack.

On Monday, the ATA, its members and other representatives from the trucking and rail industries discussed bushfire response and recovery efforts with the Deputy Prime Minister.

ATA Chair Geoff Crouch said the ATA General Council will meet next Monday to develop a proposed assistance package for affected trucking businesses and employees, before a follow-up teleconference with the Deputy Prime Minister to provide a full outline of the trucking industry’s position and recommendations.

“The bushfire crisis has had devastating impacts on communities across the country, seeing the loss of lives, homes and businesses,” Mr Crouch said.

“It has also heavily impacted trucking businesses who have had to endure safety hazards, road closures and lengthy delays in getting much needed supplies to communities in need.”

Trucking businesses in SA and WA were significantly affected, where fleets of trucks were left stranded during the 12-day closure of Eyre Highway.

“In the longer term, the government must ensure infrastructure and bridges are rebuilt in accordance with bushfire resilient standards,” Mr Crouch said.

“The government must also take dramatically stronger action to address climate change.”

The Deputy Prime Minister thanked trucking businesses for the support they are providing to the community, while Mr Crouch said in the ATA’s statement that he commended the Deputy Prime Minister “for his initiative in engaging with industry at this critical time”.

In addition to the ATA lobbying on behalf of its members, it will roll out information to affected businesses about the government assistance that is available, Mr Crouch said.

Mr Crouch will take part in a prime ministerial roundtable on the bushfire crisis this Friday, while ATA CEO Ben Maguire will participate in a roundtable today with federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie.

Barbaric trucker convicted and fined for animal cruelty

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A livestock transporter from Keith in South Australia has been convicted and fined $5,000 for two charges of animal cruelty, Agriculture Victoria has reported.

The 51-year-old transporter, who was not publicly named, pleaded guilty in the Horsham Magistrates’ Court to the charges relating to a consignment of sheep he transported to an abattoir in western Victoria in May last year.

“During the journey a number of sheep went down in the truck and were unable to walk upon arrival at the destination,” Agriculture Victoria stated.

“At the destination, the transporter proceeded to throw a number of sheep from the top of the unloading ramp and back of the truck and they fell from an elevated height to the ground below.

“The transporter then left live and dead sheep piled on the ground and failed to seek appropriate attention or treatment for the sheep that were still alive.

“Agriculture Victoria submitted to the court that the transporter, who was in charge of the animals during their journey, including their unloading at the abattoir, had a fundamental duty of care which he failed to exercise, resulting in further suffering to the already weakened animals.

“The Magistrate said the seriousness of the offences led to imposing a conviction on the offender.”

Agriculture Victoria Animal Health and Welfare Compliance Manager Daniel Bode said livestock transporters have a responsibility for the welfare of all animals under their care from the time they are loaded through to and including unloading.

“If you find livestock that are weak, ill or injured then they simply can’t travel. Any animals in distress must be handled humanely and never thrown or dropped during any stage of the transportation process,” Mr Bode said.

“Seek assistance for any distressed animals the very first chance you get – and let the receiver know of any weak, ill or injured animals straight away.

“This case is a reminder that livestock transporters must exercise their duty of care – and that the mistreatment of animals during transportation will not be tolerated by the court or the community.”

Agriculture Victoria says animal and welfare concerns can be reported to the animal health officer at Agriculture Victoria offices, or by calling Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 or emailing aw.complaint@ecodev.vic.gov.au.

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EWDs: The future of HVNL compliance?

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The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has announced that it is currently assessing a number of applications for approval as Electronic Work Diaries (EWDs).

An EWD is an electronic device or system, which with NHVR approval, can be used to monitor and record the work and rest times of a driver as alternative to the written work diary currently required by the Heavy Vehicle National Law (NVNL).

The EWD Policy Framework and Standards have been developed in association with technology providers, transport operators and police and are subject to comprehensive review and consultation.

NHVR Executive Director Safety Standards and Assurance Geoff Casey said that current round of applications for EWDs were of a varying quality, after a number of previous applications had fallen short of requirements.

“NHVR officers have recently met with a number of technology providers to ensure they are clear about our requirements for regulatory EWDs and to better facilitate the assessment so they can finalise their applications,” Mr Casey said.

“Applications range from an app that can be used on a tablet to a hardware solution that is similar to some of the existing non-regulatory NHVR approved electronic recording systems currently being used by operators.”

Mr Casey said that while the NHVR is keen to see the first approved system enter the market, it is important to ensure that the system is fit for purpose.

“A number of applications are missing important features, such as the ability to correct errors, that are designed to take pressure off drivers using EWDs,” he said.

“We will continue to work with technology providers and transport operators to progress their applications.”

At the moment, there is no application fee to apply for approval of an EWD and the NHVR says it will list any approved EWDs on its website.

 

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