NT: guidance released for workplace road safety improvements

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of members. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institue of Health & Safety.
Date: 
Tuesday, 26 May, 2020 - 19:00
Category: 
Policy & legislation
Location: 
Northern Territory

The Northern Territory’s Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics (DIPL) recently released a number of resources to help organisations improve their workplace road safety.

Vehicle collisions are a leading cause of worker fatalities nationally for a number of years, and in the Northern Territory, the percentage is much higher with 55 per cent of worker fatalities caused by vehicle collisions in the five years from 2014 to 2018.

The recently published Safe driving guidelines for workplaces provides a range of information and strategies to help organisations identify and manage road safety risks, and promote a positive road safety culture in the workplace.

The Northern Territory road network is spread across a vast 1.3 million square kilometres, with a large portion of people living and working in regional and remote areas.

Before driving in remote areas, drivers need to have considered the risks involved with driving remotely including proper vehicle preparation, checking weather conditions, road accessibility and taking plenty of food and water.

“Driving in regional and remote areas can place employees in a high-risk situation,” the guideline noted.

If employees are required to drive in such areas or long distances, organisations should develop a regional/remote travel policy and procedure to minimise any risk. This could include a vehicle safety checklist.

The guidelines said employers should purchase fit-for-purpose vehicles for employees to use when driving to remote areas and ensure they are maintained to a suitable standard, and:

  • Fit vehicles with the necessary equipment for remote travel.
  • Consider supplying a satellite phone in case of breakdown or an emergency situation.
  • Mandate defensive driving and vehicle recovery training (or similar) for employees driving a 4WD in a remote or isolated location.
  • Encourage employees to undertake a risk assessment of their travel and consider travelling with others.
  • Implement a workplace procedure requiring employees to check-in when they arrive safely.
  • Ensure all employees travelling have the appropriate skills to use vehicle equipment if required.

 

The guidelines also recommended a number of steps for employees:

  • Plan stops and take rest breaks. It can be hundreds of kilometres between water and petrol stops.
  • Conduct a vehicle safety check before departing.
  • Employees who will be driving a 4WD vehicle in a remote or isolated location should have undertaken a defensive driving and vehicle recovery training (or similar).
  • Take extra care when driving on unsealed roads (dirt and gravel). Vehicles take longer to stop and are harder to control on unsealed roads. In these conditions, all vehicles are at risk of skidding, sliding or rolling over.
  • Drive to the condition of the road, as the condition of the road can change suddenly due to extreme weather conditions and can include flooded roadways in the wet.