SAFETY FIRST: WorkCover district co-ordinator Paul Irwin (left), Flynn Transport director Tony Flynn and one of his drivers, Jimmy Cotterell (right).
SAFETY FIRST: WorkCover district co-ordinator Paul Irwin (left), Flynn Transport director Tony Flynn and one of his drivers, Jimmy Cotterell (right). Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Transport work is a real killer

TRANSPORT workers are being urged to prioritise safety when loading and unloading vehicles after it was identified as the major cause of injury in the state's road freight transport industry.

According to WorkCover NSW, the transport industry is one of the highest risk industries in the state, with 21 workers killed and more than 4100 injured in the past two years - costing an average of $53.6 million in compensation each year.

WorkCover Ballina district co-ordinator Paul Irwin said there were a number of steps local road freight transport owners, managers and workplace safety officers could take to educate workers and improve safety.

"The road freight transport industry is comprised of more than 9000 businesses involved in bulk freight, long and short distance trucking, intrastate transfer of retail and wholesale goods, as well as interstate movement of bulk goods and containers," Mr Irwin said.

"Unsafe manual tasks account for more than 30% of all injuries and illnesses, particularly during the loading and unloading of trucks.

"The most common causes of injuries while undertaking manual tasks include heavy lifting, awkward posture, repetitive movement and lack of suitable plant and equipment."

Tony Flynn, director of local transport business Flynn Transport, said he was aware of the risks associated with manually loading and unloading vehicles.

"While injuries during the manual loading and unloading of trucks are a major risk, these types of injuries can occur at any point in the supply chain," he said.

Mr Flynn said work, health and safety systems were in place to manage the risk of injury during manual tasks, including the use of electric pallet jacks and forklifts with certified operators, correct identification and control of hazards, and training in the use of manual pallet jacks at non-company sites - which was essential.

"We want all workers to return home safely to their families at the end of the working day," he said.

"Don't wait until there's an injury or death at your road freight transport business before developing safe work systems."



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