Transport & Logistics

Q & A with Julia Collins, Safe Work Australia

6 Oct 2014, by Informa Insights

Julia Collins is Acting Branch Manager of the Review and Engagement Branch at Safe Work Australia. Her role currently includes investigating how the model Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws could be improved.

Julia has extensive experience in policy development at the national level and in the WHS regulatory field. She has been closely involved in the harmonisation process including assisting the panel who undertook the National Review into Model Occupational Health and Safety Laws. Julia subsequently worked on developing the model WHS Act, Regulations and Codes of Practice which have been adopted in all jurisdictions apart from Victoria and WA.

Safe Work Australia
Julia Collins, Safe Work Australia

Julia was also a member of the National Transport Commission’s Chain of Responsibility Taskforce.

Prior to working at Safe Work Australia and its predecessors the Office of the ASCC and NOHSC, Julia managed the inspectorate and the education unit at ACT WorkCover where she developed various initiatives to raise awareness of health and safety including the ACT’s “Ten Steps to Safety” program for Small Business.

What do you think will be the key challenge for the industry going into next year?
Reducing fatalities and injuries of drivers and other road users requires systematic and consistent efforts. Some actions should focus on vehicle and work design, and others on the management systems.

  • Vehicle safety – design including new technologies to limit speed and importantly ensure vehicle maintenance
  • Work design:
    • Prevention of psycho-social issues – shift design, length, rest breaks, remote work, isolation; and
    • prevention of physical injury when loading and unloading – manual handling, falls from heights, being hit by other vehicles and whole body vibration risks.
  • Dealing with health and well-being issues associated with this industry where there are both work and non-work related factors which affect drivers’ safety.

What is the main issue facing heavy vehicle safety?
The number of deaths in road transport is out of proportion to the size of the sector. Last year, 191 Australians died at work; 39 of them – over 20% – were employed in road transport. Compared to the average across Australian workplaces, where 2.39 of every thousand workers die on average each year, 26.66 road freight transport workers die every year – over ten times the national average.

Safe Work Australia projects which are relevant to the CoR/road safety and of interest to the conference.
Road freight transport is a priority industry sector under Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022. It was selected because it was found to have high numbers and rates of injury and fatalities, and is by its nature hazardous. The national industry priorities focus attention and activities on identifying the cause of injury and illness and on working to find and implement solutions.

  • One key Action Area under the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022 is Supply chains and networks.  We will be developing national activities to use the influence of supply chains to support work health and safety, and given their relevance to the road freight sector, we will consult with stakeholders in that sector on possible national activities.
  • We are currently working on a national project on the principles of Good work through effective design – this will include the design of work, work systems and processes.  This will be relevant to some elements of road freight such as logistics and planning, drivers’ schedules and trip design. We will consult with key players in the sector.

Julia will be giving the keynote address at the upcoming Chain of Responsbility and Heavy Vehicle Safety Conference on work health and safety: the Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012-2022, road freight transport worker fatalities, and the impact of speed and fatigue.

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