INDEPENDENT NEWS

Trucks Should Be Included In Legislative Change

Published: Thu 6 Dec 2001 03:36 PM
Tranz Rail wants Government moves to toughen safety in the workplace laws to include road transport operators.
The proposed new legislation covers air, sea and rail operators but appears to have overlooked road transport. Tranz Rail, also one of the country’s largest road transport operators would encourage any Government moves to level the playing field and include road transport.
Under the new legislation rail workers and crews on ships and aircraft, who are exempt from the current law, will get the same protection under New Zealand's workplace safety law as other workers.
“As the country’s predominant rail operator and one of the biggest trucking operators, Tranz Rail welcomes the broad move towards improving standards across the board in transportation,” says Jeff Weber, Tranz Rail’s General Manager Safety.
“But, the company is concerned that a glaring omission in the proposals is the failure to apply higher safety standards to the road transport industry. The opportunity should be taken to bring all modes under one common standard.
“We would like to see trucks subject to the same regulations as trains in terms of workplace safety and the definition of a workplace environment. We would also support any moves to make trucking accidents subject to the same type of rigorous investigation by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) as rail and air accidents.”
Mr Weber said Tranz Rail had refined its operational and marketing objectives to get back to the basics of streamlined, efficient rail freight haulage and safety was a fundamental consideration in these moves.
“A key goal is to reduce the frequency of dangerous operating incidents that could injure workers. These include derailments, collisions, and marshalling and loading incidents. Our commitment to safety performance has won the support of our staff and the rail union.
“That means Tranz Rail is already well-positioned to accept the new standards in safety and applauds the general direction of the Government’s moves.
“However, this is also an excellent opportunity to level the playing field across all modes. Truck operators do not meet the safety standards of other transport modes in several respects,” says Jeff Weber.
“Accidents or incidents involving rail are subject to independent review by the TAIC, as well as LTSA, OSH, and in certain situations, the police. The TAIC is barred by law from investigating road accidents and OSH rarely investigates these. In a level crossing accident involving a train and truck, the train will be investigated and the truck will not.
“While the health and safety legislation is being expanded in transportation it appears trucking is again excluded. The application of OSH standards to the cab of the truck as a ‘place of work’ remains a grey area until the law can be extended and the application clarified.”
“With the Bill due for debate, there is an excellent opportunity to plug some of these loopholes in safety law and require truck operators to face up to their safety obligations.
“Trucking needs to be embraced in the new safety standards. Tranz Rail’s distribution group is one of the biggest trucking operators around and we are willing to accept similar safety standards, requirements, and audits as rail operators face. Other truckers should do the same.”

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