Breaking news

This month’s Breaking News includes information about safety coaches, DHL cargo bikes and a tyre innovation by Goodyear.

Get a free personal safety coach
Road freight transport companies (with 50 or fewer employees) that operate in the Sydney metropolitan area, Newcastle, Hunter, New England or Central West areas can apply for a free safety coach. A safety coach has the skills and experience to teach you how to comply with your workplace safety and workers compensation obligations.

Your safety coach will assess your workplace and help you develop an action plan to address any safety issues. They’ll return within six weeks to see how you have progressed. Register for your free safety coach now.
By engaging a safety coach, you also become eligible for a $500 small business rebate, which will help you introduce safety solutions into your business.

Pedalling into the future of short-haul trucking
Global parcel-delivery giant DHL is introducing a new essential transporter to its fleet. The company has replaced 33 trucks with 33 cargo bikes in the Netherlands, resulting in a massive reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions. Not to mention saving around $575,000 a year. Read more here.

No more flat tyres
Inflating your tyres too much can cause them to tear, while not having enough pressure can lead to punctures and damage to the suspension. With this in mind, Goodyear has created tyres that monitor pressure, and automatically inflate using just a regulator and a tube. Read more here.

Driving the wellness message home

When it comes to making a dent in improving the health of Australian ‘truckies’, Di Carroll is something of a prime mover.

The determined crusader and her independent Tarcutta-based Trans-Help Foundation are making significant inroads into the road freight transport industry’s ‘wellness’ dilemma.
Operating a 24/7 national 1300 support line and four mobile preventative health check units, Di and her 40 volunteers have helped more than 10,000 transport families since 2005.

“My first husband Gary was killed in the industry, crushed by a falling load of logs, and my dad was a truck driver, as are my brother and nephews, so we’ve been around trucks all our lives,” said the mum of six and grandmother of four.

“The foundation brings a lot of personal experience and that’s what the guys relate to; we can go out there and talk the talk.”

Recognising workers’ reluctance to use company-run counselling services – due to a fear of being benched after flagging health or personal issues – the national charity rolled out its first Mobile Health and Support Units in 2008. The results were staggering; out of 200 participants, more than 75 per cent had medical issues.

“We found that drivers didn’t have access to doctors and if they were able to get a GP appointment, they were usually at the other end of the country,” she said.

“Furthermore, many drivers weren’t taking prescribed medication, either because they couldn’t get to a GP to get a new script or visit a pharmacy.”

A typical example was a 29-year-old driver and father of two who thought he was fine but was actually overweight with high blood pressure and cholesterol and sleep apnoea.

“After we put the wind up him with health check results, he took the next day off work and went to the doctor for a check-up,” she said.

“His doctor told him to thank us as we’d probably helped save his life.”

Equally concerning were the underlying health issues and other factors contributing to fatalities and incidents that Trans-Help volunteers discovered during counselling of widows or drivers.

“Fatigue is everywhere but it masks the underlying issues; for example, we are campaigning hard against energy drinks as we believe these are a major killer in the transport industry,” she said.

Di said Trans-Help was concerned about the promotion of energy drinks as a solution for fatigue, particularly as some drivers consumed too many – often along with No-Doz and Berocca – a potential recipe for disaster.

Equally concerning were the results of transport company visits where volunteers conducted overall health assessments of staff. One had found three out of five mechanics were on anti-depressants to help them cope with work-related stress.

“And these are the guys who repair and maintain the trucks that go out on the roads,” she said.

“I honestly think the biggest problem in the industry is a lack of education, so the more drivers and companies we can reach out to, the better.

“Everyone needs to understand that people’s lives and health are much more important than time slots, allocations and deadlines.”

Find out more at including the charity’s partnership with GP2U, providing truckies with instant access to doctors via video conference using computer, tablet or mobile phone.

The Get Healthy at Work initiative also provides free tools, templates and resources – and online health checks – to address workplace health issues.

To contact WorkCover NSW, call 13 10 50 or visit our website.

Smart specs a wake-up call for drowsy drivers

Special glasses that monitor driver tiredness sound like science fiction but are, in fact, a reality. Developed by Australian company Optalert, the smart specs have reportedly proven a success by helping to keep fatigue-prone Western Australian mining haulage drivers on the straight and narrow.

Clearly the fatigue management glasses could have the potential to assist with combating the issue of driver fatigue in the road freight industry right across the whole country.

When a person begins to get tired, their eyelid and eye muscle movement starts to slow down. The Optalert system works by measuring the operator’s eyelid movement 500 times a second using a tiny invisible LED built into the glasses frame, which is connected to a small computer processor mounted on the dashboard.

A driver receives an ongoing alertness score and a warning if the system detects signs of fatigue. So in the event of a medium-risk alert, they must pull over for a break, hydrate and eat. A high-risk alert requires a driver to notify their supervisor and have a 10 to 20 minute sleep.

“Optalert’s monitoring system picks up on the physiological warning signs of very early onset drowsiness, often well in advance of the operator feeling the effects,” said Optalert.

“It is this real time feedback that has proven to change the behaviour of operators by providing information influencing their level of alertness while encouraging open conversation around safety.”

The glasses lens colour can be changed to suit different driving conditions, including night-time, and there is also a special lens adaptor for users who require prescription driving glasses.

Visit the Optalert website for more information.