“Funerals aren’t motivational events” – WHS, driving and you

March 2, 2020 11:02 pm Published by

When we hear the term Work Health and Safety we automatically think of risk mitigation, compliance, and worker safety. Our thoughts move to the warehouse, the yard, the machine shop or the construction site.

The traditional areas we perceive as being the riskiest get our full attention and rightly so! No one wants to see a colleague injured or killed in the workplace. As Ian Luff says “funerals aren’t motivational events”.

So, we do everything we can to ensure our workplace is a safe place for workers to do what they need to do and get home to their families safely each night.

Workers go to great lengths to stay safe

From what we have seen the vast majority of workplaces offer a safe environment for their staff to operate from, years of legislation and compliance have sought to change the culture of safety and that has now been embraced.

Despite this, occasionally we still hear of worksites that fall foul of this and mistakes are made, human life is lost or tragic life changing injuries sustained. The battle must never end to help reduce workplace incidents and when these incidents occur it’s a stark reminder of our obligations under the legislation.

Putting all this aside, and despite our preconceived ideas regarding workplace health and safety, driving still remains the number one cause of deaths in the workplace, yet most of us don’t even regard this risk when driving for work purposes.


Meaning of “workplace”

8 MEANING OF “WORKPLACE” WHS Safety Act 2011 Section 19

(1) A “workplace” is a place where work is carried out for a business or undertaking and includes any place where a worker goes, or is likely to be, while at work.

(2) In this section, “place” includes:

(a) a vehicle, vessel, aircraft or other mobile structure

You may say, ‘well the driver has a licence, what more can I do?’

If you are familiar with WHS laws and codes of practice, this isn’t a good enough response, in fact, it is downright negligent. The ramifications of this will be catastrophic should a fatality occur or a severe injury and we aren’t talking about the loss of the worker, insurance increases and the impact on morale, all those are fringe effects of the main concern.

How would you or your company respond to a Coronial Inquest or safety regulator investigation?

Would you be prepared for the questions? 

Ignoring the problem and hoping for the best won’t make it better if the situation arises. You need to make sure you have legitimate risk reduction steps in place to keep workers safer while driving.

Ian Luff walking workers through a driver training scenario

This includes many different options, but given we know how risky driving is why should this be any different from operating a machine in a workshop or controlling a yard with many workers and machinery crossing paths?

The answer is it shouldn’t and if you think it won’t happen, then you have misread the statistics, remember the number one cause of fatalities in the workplace?

Workers who take risks behind the wheel are your responsibility

You can reduce your risks; you can make behavioural change that will help your workers stay alive or uninjured while driving, proactive driver safety is a process and that starts with organisational change.

Training is one element; policy is another and so is fleet. Having worked with many companies that are proactive in all of these areas, we know firsthand the benefits these measures have, including cost saving (efficiency), lowering your premiums and healthier staff.

Road safety doesn’t need to be overlooked. It must be included in your work health and safety plans, it should be your priority and it doesn’t need to be difficult.

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