Keeping safe when the road is your workplace

Posted by Pia Abrahams on

Brenniston National Standard Motor Vehicle First Aid Kit is purpose designed for roadside emergencies.

Work Health and Safety authorities around Australia want businesses and workers to take the risks of work-related driving more seriously.

In Victoria, 17 workers died in road accidents last year. This accounted for more than a quarter of the state’s total workplace fatalities in 2022.

Most of these workers had jobs that required them to spend a great deal of time driving, such as truck and delivery drivers. Others were travelling on the road between places of work or appointments.

Aside from these fatalities, almost 500 workers in Victoria claimed compensation last year from an injury sustained in a vehicle accident while working.

In NSW, almost a third of workplace fatalities are the result of road crashes at work, while about a quarter of the state road toll involves a vehicle being used for business.

Legal responsibility

In Australia, the legal responsibilities of employers and workers extend to all vehicles used for work, regardless of their place of use or industry.

Any vehicle used for the purpose of work counts as a workplace. Regardless of whether drivers are being paid a vehicle allowance, employers must ensure the car is safe and free of health risks. Drivers must also have all necessary licenses and training.

Every workplace in Australia must by law have an adequate number of appropriately stocked first aid kits that are readily accessible to all workers. This is to ensure that injured or ill workers can receive even basic first aid care as soon as possible. A Brenniston National Standard Motor Vehicle First Aid Kit is glovebox-ready to treat burns, bleeds, eye injuries and post-accident shock at the scene of a road accident or injury.

Employers are also required to ensure that first aid kits are regularly inspected and maintained.

Road safety policy

Employers must have systems and policies in place to ensure vehicles are regularly inspected and maintained, and that drivers have the right training to manage any specific risks they might face, such as speeding, drugs and alcohol, or fatigue. Even distractions such as technology use while driving.

It’s also important to plan ahead to avoid any potentially perilous conditions on the road. Employers must communicate with their workers on appropriate policies, procedures and instructions.

WorkSafe Victoria is taking a focused, prevention-led approach with special attention to the industries and hazards most likely to cause death or serious injury on the roads.

This approach includes strategic workplace visits, shared enforcement activity with regulatory partners and collaboration with road safety stakeholders to encourage employers across all industries work on safety outcomes.

Neglecting duties and legal obligations can result in heavy fines and possible jail time.

Stay safe behind the wheel

To keep workplace risks behind the wheel to a minimum, employers must:

  • Devise appropriate safe systems of work and review and revise them regularly.
  • Carry out regular vehicle inspections and servicing in line with manufacturers’ guidelines.
  • Conduct pre-operations checks on essential components like brakes, steering, tyres and suspension daily to spot any issues like oil leaks, and have them fixed by a competent mechanic.
  • Prevent untrained, unlicensed or inexperienced people from operating vehicles.
  • Ensure anyone carrying out the work is competent to do so through suitable instructions, information, training, mentoring and assessment.
  • Establish suitable rules and regulations for safe road use, taking the load of each vehicle into account.
  • Provide drivers and other workers with all the safety information they need to do their work safely and with no dangers to their health.
  • Review and address all crashes and near misses relating to work travel.

Employers can foster a positive environment for their workers to promote greater road safety.

Different types of engagement can help start conversations about the importance of remaining safe on our roads.

These can include one-on-one meetings with workers, induction programs, company newsletters, fact sheets, group presentations and toolbox discussions.