ACA Truckie Insider

Well done ‘A Current Affair’, yet another black mark against the trucking industry. I’m beginning to wonder if this program actually has researchers or if they rely solely on regurgitating bullshit.

For those of you who didn’t see the story, here’s the link…

Let’s have a look at a few of the claims tendered:

“Most Dangerous Profession” ~ This statement, whilst certainly an attention getting headline, is statistically untrue. Whilst we do have the highest body count we also have twice as many workers as the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries sector which has a similar body count, applying the theory of possibility, the only correct method by definition, we lose the title. To those of us in the industry it’s an insult to our professionalism; to our families it’s a cause of great, unwarranted, stress and to the casual onlooker it’s suggestive that we’re ticking time bombs and yet more ammunition for the truck haters.

In Safe Work Australia’s “Notified Fatalities Statistical Report, 2008-2010″ we see the Transport and Storage Industry has a fatality incidence rate (deaths per 100,000 workers) of 2.7. This figure is surpassed by the mining, construction and the true most dangerous sector of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing with a whopping 6.9 fatalities per 100,000 workers. If we go one step further and look at Frequency Rates (deaths per hours worked) I’m quite sure we’d see an improved report card for our industry considering the average weekly hours an interstate driver does.

One argument that has been offered to me (by Mr Corcoran) to justify the title of “most dangerous” is that insurance companies don’t offer Long Distance drivers insurance. Firstly, this isn’t entirely true as the type of insurance must be specified and all insurance companies must be taken into consideration. Secondly, it’s important to remember that insurance companies are profit motivated and base their decisions on their risk, not ours. With a relatively small pool of potentially insurable persons earning a relatively high income it doesn’t make commercial sense to offer drivers an off the shelf policy however this is not reflective of our risk, only theirs.

“Sixteen times more likely to be killed at work” ~ This fact also appears somewhat flawed. The closest I can find to a source for this one is the TWU claiming it is from a Safe Work Australia report. I’ve scoured the SWA website and the nearest I can find is 2013 report entitled “Work Health and Safety in the Road Freight Transport Industry“. This report sights workers as only ten times more likely than all other industry sectors collectively. This report states deaths per 100,000 workers in Road Freight Transport at 18.6 with all other industries having a comparative rate of 1.9 per 100,000. This comparison is a little misleading when the latter figure includes industries where nobody dies at work and isn’t likely to other than from boredom or chocking on a latte!

The TWU spokesperson featured on ACA states that 330 fatalities annually are a result of truck crashes. It’s a matter of semantics, however the phraseology used suggests these were all accidents caused by trucks. The truth is these were accidents that involved a heavy vehicle. According to NTI statistics only a third of accidents involving a heavy vehicle are the fault of the heavy. Of course sensationalizing facts is nothing new to the TWU, their motivation is proven by their inaction to matters that relate to Interstate Truck drivers welfare.

The claim was made that there are drivers running Sydney to Melbourne for $150. The Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2010 has an agreed distance of 858 km for this trip which would work out at 17 cent per kilometer, well below the award rate of 38.77 cents for towing a single trailer. If there’s truly a driver working for this he needs to give himself an upper-cut.

Another misleading statement was made stating drivers are only paid when driving. I’ll agree that the award does make provision for “minimum one hour payments” for loading and unloading and that this clause is often abused but drivers who aren’t paid for the time they spend loading and unloading need to insist they are as refusal to make such payments under the award is illegal.

“Days without a shower”… That’s a personal choice. Some of the shower facilities are a bit how’s your father but there’s plenty of them. Even off the main coastal highways there’s pubs, saleyards and caravan parks with showers available to truckies. Don’t go informing the general public we’re a subgroup of the great unwashed, it’s simply not true.

Equally the claim that you go days without a face to face conversation is suggestive of some sort of social inability rather than a lack of conversational victims. If all you can muster is a grunt at the bowser and picking your toenails over a cup of coffee then road transport isn’t the reason for your social solitude.

If 65 truck drivers have been killed in the last twelve months I’m surprised. The annual average for the last decade is around 50 (Work related fatalities involving trucks) so a 30% increase is of great concern but it’s hard to compare figures when little is mentioned about their source.

Any death, in any workplace, is a death too many and for the survivors and families statistics are no comfort or compensation for their loss but grand standing and misinformation delivered to the public that diminishes the transport industries reputation isn’t going to help anyone either.

This industry has a truly diverse range of roles and opportunities, a level of mateship and esprit de corp seldom found in other industries and a safety record that continues to improve despite an increase in vehicle numbers across all classes and an expanding freight task, but I guess that’s not the sort of “news” we’re told to consume.