The TWU recently secured justice in the NSW Magistrates Court for an Owner-Driver in the concrete industry. In the view of the TWU, Holcim Australia Readymix and Fairfield City Council have failed in their duty of care towards our member when it came to the safe delivery of concrete to a Fairfield City Council worksite.
Our member, an Owner-Driver has been driving a concrete agitator as a contractor for Holcim for 32 years with a clean driving record. He attended a worksite operated by Fairfield City Council to deliver four cubic metres of liquid concrete for kerb and guttering works.
Whilst parked up, with the concrete pouring, a Fairfield City Council Ranger took a photo of the truck and sent our member a traffic infringement notice with a fine. That is unnecessary behaviour on part of the Council.
TWU intervention on behalf of our member meant our member did not receive a conviction from the Court through a Court Order known as “section 10”.
His Honour, Magistrate Tsavdaridis agreed that it was an unusual situation that the council was both the prosecutor and the client for the work completed by our member. His Honour went on the record with words to the effect: “I cannot think of a more appropriate situation than this matter where s.10(3) would be invoked in relation to the trivial nature of an offence.”
Our member is asking the question, why did Fairfield City Council not put traffic management in place? Where were the permits that Holcim should have arranged with Fairfield City Council?
Our member should have been able to turn up to the site and know that he and his truck would be safe as well as members of the public. Fairfield City Council should have ensured that traffic management was in place, based on the needs of a heavy vehicle and a concrete pour.
Safety in the Transport Industry is a shared responsibility. Clients like Fairfield City Council and contracting companies like Holcim Australia’s Readymix must explain to our members why they are not properly ensuring a safe, managed drop off zone for deliveries.
Of course, drivers must check that they have the relevant paperwork and late last year, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator commented on the increase in compliance by truck drivers and their awareness of permits needed for various loads. I am asking the regulator to seek better compliance from clients and companies like Holcim, ensuring a safer workday for transport workers.
Currently the shared responsibility for safety is not equal; transport workers are still copping the major part of the load. In our member’s case, a loss of income, an unnecessary day in court simply because a simple act of communication and the provision of a traffic management plan was missing.
Holcim should not have sent our member to the site without ensuring the compliance and permits were in place.
Legally enforceable changes are required to ensure driver safety and that is not just in the driver’s cab. Changes right across the supply chain will push clients like Fairfield City Council to take their shared safety responsibilities more seriously.