March 12, 2020

Coronavirus and the Safety of Bus Drivers

The Transport Workers’ Union, the Union for bus drivers in NSW knows that safety in any transport supply chain is a shared responsibility.

We are looking for answers and action from Transport for NSW (TFNSW) regarding the plan to ensure the safety of bus drivers and passengers in the private bus industry, when it comes to Coronavirus (Covid 19).

Richard Olsen, NSW State Secretary of the TWU said, “On behalf of bus drivers across NSW we are seeking answers and action regarding the provision of sick leave for any affected workers, preventative measures to decrease risk of infection, and personal protective equipment.”

“Our bus driver members are telling us that they are receiving very little information about Covid 19 safety and feel they are in a vulnerable position as they continue to provide a valuable service for their communities.”

“We are seeking action on prevention and safety in the transport industry from Government as the number of Coronavirus cases increase in NSW. Bus Drivers face a higher risk of being infected.”

Every day, bus and coach drivers work with a high number of people in a confined space with limited ventilation. They clean and touch a variety of common surfaces, handrails for example and on some services they handle cash. Advice received has shown that on a bus, where common surfaces are made from materials like glass, fabric, metal or plastic, the Coronavirus can survive for two to three days.

To further ensure driver safety in their workplace, the TWU are seeking the following for all bus drivers across the state:

1) A detailed report back from the TFNSW Coronavirus Taskforce and Secretary of Transport for NSW Rodd Staples on what action they will be undertaking to keep staff and customers safe. Drivers should be properly and directly consulted as part of the taskforce investigations. We are concerned at the slow reaction of the NSW Government, with for example the Government of Western Australia already taking action.

2) TFNSW and operating companies meet their legislated obligations to ensure that drivers are protected from risk through the provision of the correct, necessary personal protective equipment including alcohol based hand sanitiser and gloves where cash is handled.

3) Preventative processes including the implementation of a safe system of work, consultation with an expert on hygiene and infection control and subsequent implementation of daily cleaning of buses along with sanitisation of buses around the entry and driver areas at the end of each shift.

4) Assurances from the NSW Government, as the controllers of the bus route contracts in NSW that they will direct operators to ensure that if any bus driver is required to cease work or self-isolate by request or direction of an operator or government authority, that they be paid their usual weekly expected income without penalty on their current leave provisions.

Media Inquiries or Interviews – Please Contact Colin Henderson on 0405 625 208


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