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Cattle transporter embraces technology to improve safety

Road Trains of Australia (RTA) Pty Ltd is a privately-owned transport company with over 40 years' experience, specialising in transporting livestock, petroleum products, bulk commodities and general freight.

With operations in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, the fleet includes 80 road train triples, with drivers travelling 150,000 kms each year. The Queensland operations involve hauling cattle, often in clouds of dust, for stations throughout the state.

RTA saw a need for safety improvements after experiencing high workers' compensation claims with significant associated costs and impacts on their business. The company signed up for the Queensland Government's Injury Prevention and Management Program (IPaM) to help tackle the problem.

IPaM is a joint initiative between Workplace Health and Safety Queensland and WorkCover Queensland. The program is available to any Queensland employer requiring assistance to improve their safety and injury management and return to work systems.

The remoteness of RTA's operations was not a barrier to their participation. An IPaM advisor travelled to Mt Isa to understand their business operations and discuss their work health and safety and injury management challenges. The advisor made further visits to carry out safety and hazard assessments and conduct regular review meetings.

These areas were identified for improvement:

  • prioritising work health and safety issues
  • increasing reporting
  • improving work place inspections
  • involving employees in the risk assessment process for new plant
  • allocating roles and responsibilities for work health and safety
  • committing to significantly change staff perceptions about safety
  • injury management and return to work support for staff following injury.

One of the biggest successes for the company so far has been establishing consistent safety information and reporting across the group. Reporting and consultation on safety takes place through ongoing regular internal audits and toolbox meetings which include a focus on key safety issues for each depot.

There also are fortnightly Skype meetings between senior managers and local depots, and, because of the increased communication between management and workers, new controls have been developed for one of RTA's biggest risks – fatigue management.

RTA used a written work diary to monitor and record the work and rest times of drivers, but this system had a communication lag. After concerns were raised during toolbox talks, RTA decided to trial an electronic work diary mobile application. If successful, the app will be introduced across the business.

RTA continues to implement the use of technologies within the business, currently using GPS tracking systems and monitoring and the use of on-board real-time camera recording systems. RTA has also implemented a driver's manual across the business, incorporating job descriptions, including workers' roles and responsibilities for work health and safety, injury management and rehabilitation.

Since participation in IPaM, RTA has undergone a cultural shift. Now they can see ideas being actioned, workers are more active in coming up with further ideas to improve safety. The company a has seen a 70 per cent reduction in workers' compensation claims, with only one claim so far this year

More information

More information about working with IPaM is at worksafe.qld.gov.au.