Lack of restraint – Australian approach, Singapore deaths

sa0200906[1]_Page_1The Northern Territory OHS  authority issued a guidance this week about unrestrained travel in work vehicles, a practice many of us stopped some time ago.  Obviously not everyone has.

The NT guidance is a curious document as it strongly advocates that employers assess the hazards of unrestrained travel and decide the appropriate control measures.  This advice is in line with legislative requirements and safety management protocols but clearly the authority has much clearer advice.  The document is headed 

“No seat – No belt – No ride”

The assessment has been done and the heading gives the best advice.  In OHS profession speak – if there is no seat for a passenger and/or no seat belt then NT OHS says allowing someone to travel on or in the vehicle is not acceptable.

Australia can often be glib about workplace incidents as it always looks past its region for comparisons from the US or Europe rather than looking at its immediate neighbourhood.  

Singapore’s Strait-Times reported in May 2009 about the real consequences of unrestrained travel after

“…three foreign workers sitting in the back of a lorry died after it crashed into the back of a trailer. A fourth man in the front seat also died.”

The article goes on to list the law changes that Singapore has introduced but, more interestingly, tells how much more complicated the issue is than in Australia due to the level of foreign labour.

Kevin Jones

1 thought on “Lack of restraint – Australian approach, Singapore deaths”

  1. Yeah! for NT at least making the heading real. Boo hiss for even implying it’s necessary to “assess the hazards” [sic]. I thought we had got beyond that sort of stuff. The clear message, not just here but all over the OH&S-World is: Enough already with risk assessments when the danger and solution is bleedingly obvious – just fix it!
    Or as I more graphically described it in a presentation to an industry association client’s annual meeting of members:
    http://i302.photobucket.com/albums/nn97/Colbuck/Grabofthefixitslide.jpg
    And for a more scholarly angle on this issue of putting risk assessments and their role into perspective, I can’t recommend more strongly that you have a look at Dr Bryan Bottomley’s paper titled: “Risk management: Less ritual and more reliability”. I’ve always been an admirer of Bryan’s thinking on OH&S. His paper was presented at 2006 conference and subsequently attached to his public submission on the national model OH&S Act.
    A great read on what is wrong with applying formal risk assessments in every situation. He includes a suggested new approach to deciding if a formal risk assessment makes sense. The link here is to his public submission. Go to the URL and scroll down to attachment 1 of his submission: http://tinyurl.com/lw4z72

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