Case study: increased safety, reduced costs

Backs Transport employs drivers to collect and deliver goods such as furniture, white goods and general freight. They were contracted by Goodfellows to deliver a fridge to one of their retail customers.

What was the problem?

Kevin Peterson, the delivery driver, was sub-contracted by Backs for this delivery, as Backs’ three drivers were all engaged in other deliveries. Kevin’s truck did not have a tailgate lifter. To get the fridge off the truck, Kevin ‘man-handled’ and manoeuvered it to the ground. Placing it on a trolley, unsecured, he then pulled it across a rough grassy area and, single-handedly, up a narrow flight of steps, nearly dropping it several times. Ignoring the homeowner’s offers of help, Kevin eventually got the fridge to the kitchen, albeit with a few dents and scratches. A number of factors contributed to the problem, notably:

  • Poor communication between Goodfellows and Backs about the delivery site – e.g. access, stairs, uneven ground
  • no risk assessment done by the driver about the site and the work to be done
  • no tailgate lifter and inadequate lifting and carrying equipment
  • not enough workers for the job
  • poor manual handling techniques.

What was done to solve the problem?

Unimpressed by Kevin’s work practices, the homeowner contacted Goodfellows and WorkCover to complain. This prompted an inspector to visit Goodfellows and, subsequently, Backs, to inform them that they both shared work health and safety responsibilities where contracting is involved.

Business benefits

The median cost of a workers compensation claim in this industry is $3500. When an incident occurs it costs a business at least 10 times the cost of the claim in lost productivity, property damage, replacement costs and working days lost. By looking at the incident and what could be put in place to prevent it happening again, it is possible the business would save an average of $35,000.

Key outcomes

  • Making sure at least two people are allocated to each job where deliveries include heavy items
  • securing loads onto trolleys when handling large bulky items
  • having a tailgate lifter available on all trucks used by the business, including hired trucks
  • providing information about the site where the goods are to be delivered – a map showing stairs, ramps, parking and ground conditions
  • having a ‘no delivery’ policy if the delivery site or conditions make it unsafe to complete the work
  • training workers in safe lifting and loading/unloading techniques
  • having a customer service policy when difficulties arise with deliveries.

For more information about work health and safety in the road freight transport industry, call 13 10 50 or visit the road freight transport section of our website.

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