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Prime Mover Magazine


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Peter Anderson

Prioritise health, safety and wellbeing in busy Christmas lead up

November 2017

Transport operators around the country are gearing up for the industry’s busiest time of the year, with Christmas less than two months away.

Warehouses and retail shops are being stocked ahead of what will likely be record demand for consumer goods and services, with the transport industry being the common denominator in every transaction and customer interaction during the busy festive season lead-up.

It’s vital that in the rush to ensure orders are being filled, deliveries made and fulfilment centres stocked, operators do not lose sight of their health, safety and general wellbeing responsibilities to workers operating at every level of the supply chain.
As a starting point, operators of every size should ensure every vehicle in their fleet meets or exceeds basic safety standards, and, of course, are roadworthy. Operators need to look further than the tread depth on the tyres and the brake balance on trailers, and should satisfy themselves that every vehicle system is safe and functioning to prescribed standards.

And if they are not, get them repaired immediately.
Keeping the vehicle safe and maintained in the first place is arguably a lower cost, from a productivity perspective, than lost time from having to take vehicles off the road for repairs. It’s a worthwhile insurance policy against costly vehicle downtime, and having to explain to your customers why you couldn’t meet their delivery deadlines.
From an employer perspective, every operator has a duty of care to ensure their fleet is a safe workplace for their drivers, and poses no safety risks or threats to other road users.

For fleet operators, that duty of care is about much more than the safety of the fleet, it includes the physical and mental health of the driver as well. Ensure ample rest and recovery time is factored into scheduling and rostering, for both long- and short-haul operators who will bear the brunt of the extra pressure from the additional traffic and congestion that is synonymous with Christmas.

No operator wants to have an injured – or worse, deceased – driver on their conscience because basic steps weren’t taken to satisfy themselves of the safety of the fleet, and the health and wellbeing of those behind the wheel.

Encourage your staff to say something if they have concerns about vehicles, organisation systems and policies relating to safety. It’s vital that they know their health and wellbeing is your number-one priority, and that as important as it is to deliver customers’ goods on time, you, as an operator, will not compromise the safety of your drivers and other road users.

Police and other enforcement agencies will be on the lookout for vehicle defects and driver behaviours that pose a safety risk to all road users in the lead-up to Christmas. With infringement penalties what they are today, exceeding the speed limit or driving a sub-standard vehicle is simply not worth the lost time, and the safety and reputational risk it can cause for operators.
Away from the road, operators should conduct a health check of their business leading into Christmas and the typically larger financial outgoings and incomings.
Take the time now to recover outstanding amounts from debtors before things get really busy, or worse, when they go quiet in January when no one is around. Chase those long outstanding debtors now. It’s much easier to get an invoice paid when the accounts team is on deck to process transactions.

Simple steps like this can help to mitigate cash-flow pressures and can make or break your operation and its ability to meet payroll demands.
Road collisions cost the economy billions of dollars every year through personal injury, physical damage and lost productivity. Accident incidence rates tend to escalate when road usage is at a peak and pressure is highest, such as we tend to experience in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

So don’t let your operation be a victim of the Christmas peak. Do the basic vehicle and employee health and safety checks as we prepare for the extra work – and associated pressures – the end of every year seems to bring.

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