A worker at Busways Wyong tested positive for Covid-19 in December 2021 after attending the depot. The HSR requested to investigate and inspect the worksite to ensure the health and safety of workers but this was denied by Busways.
Busways denied workers were in danger of contracting Covid-19 as they were following the processes outlined in the Busways Covid Safe plan. The concerned HSR was not aware of the processes and feared for the safety of the workers in the depot. The HSR, supported by the TWU, escalated the matter to the regulator, SafeWork NSW.
SafeWork NSW has since discovered Busways failed to consult with their workers and provide adequate information and training regarding their Covid Safe plan.
As a result, SafeWork NSW has issued two Improvement Notices to Busways for breaching their obligation under the WHS Act, and for failing to consult with their workers and provide adequate information and training regarding Busways Covid Safe plan. The matter is still open with SafeWork NSW.
WHS RISKS AROUND ELECTRIC BUSES
Since Andrew Constance was Transport Minister, the NSW Government has been, moving towards a plan to remove 8000 diesel buses and replace them with an electric fleet. At recent budget estimate hearings, it was discovered this plan is now delayed by five years.
In the meantime, Assistant State Secretary, Marija Marsic, the TWU Director of WHS and Education along with Emily Armstrong, TWU WHS & Research Officer, spoke on electric bus safety issues to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Emission Free Modes of Transport. The TWU made a WHS right of entry to a transit systems Electric Bus Yard. TWU members on the site raised issues about lack of training, cramped work environment, hazards around the electric charging stations including full exposure to rain and the elements, and significant potholes and other damage being left in the depot as part of the installation of charging stations. We sought documents and inspected the site. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the conversations with members prior to the exercising of this right of entry, TSA refused and/or was unable to provide the TWU with access to most of the documents sought.
The TWU is of the view that, in consultation with workers, operators and bus manufacturers, Transport for NSW should develop and provide a comprehensive program for managing the WHS risks associated with the electric bus rollout. It is simply not good enough for the NSW Government to mandate operators transition to a fully electric bus fleet in a relatively short time period, while washing their hands of any responsibility for the WHS risks and implications of that transition.