Taxi Driver Safety Causes Blockade

One of Melbourne’s busiest intersections was blockaded again by angry taxi drivers. This follows the stabbing of a young cab driver on April 29,2008.
The calls were again for shields in cabs to isolate the drivers from, often, irate drunk and violent passengers.
In response to previous protests, cameras were installed in taxis as a deterrence and evidence-gathering device. This control measure is clearly not working as well as cheaper and simpler alternatives.
Cameras record the attacks, the maiming and the deaths. They help identify the attacker but they do not prevent the attacks. Drivers continue to work in an industry that is more hazardous than it needs to be.
In OHS terms, any worker can refuse to place themselves at risk and many drivers have retired over the years siting safety as an important consideration. However, this has lead to a driver shortage that is being filled by migrant workers and overseas students. (The most recent victim was reported to be a 23-year-old Indian student) The influx of migrant workers to perform jobs, that Australian residents choose not to undertake, has complicated occupational health and safety considerably, and unnecessarily.
Engineering solutions of shields and other driver separations could have been introduced years ago after similar security and personal safety protests. Many other Australian and overseas jurisdictions have driver-passenger separation as standard.
After 30 hours in the autumn cold the blockade has been lifted after the government agreed to install driver shields in taxis within 12 months. But this is cold comfort to the stabbed 23-year-old tax driver and those drivers who have been choked and attacked. This engineering control has been in existence for over a century and it is a stain on the decisions of previous governments who allowed taxis to be commissioned in, what has been proven to be, an unsafe state. Violence against taxi drivers and other transport drivers has been a known workplace hazard for a long time (bus drivers have had separation for years. How was driving a taxi different?) and again, it has taken a violent attack on a worker to achieve an acceptable level of safety – a level that a “reasonable man” would have agreed to or one that was always “reasonably practicable”.

Categories assault, OHS, transport, Uncategorized, workplaceTags , , ,

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