The Transport Workers' Union is calling on the Department of Transport, SA Police Heavy Vehicle Taskforce and SafeWork SA to carry out a full audit on trucking company Garden Grove, over pressure on drivers to break the rules.
Poor safety practices at Garden Grove were exposed recently following dash cam footage showing a Garden Grove truck overtaking another truck and forcing an oncoming car onto the verge. Media have reported the driver has been sacked - but the company now needs to be investigated.
"The TWU has been involved in helping drivers who are pressured by Garden Grove to risk safety. The culture at the company is one of disregard for safety: drivers are forced to work long hours because of unrealistic schedules and the payment system incentivises drivers being pushed to the limit. The company covers up this culture - by paying drivers for work on Saturdays they did not do when they are forced to work up to 17 hours a day during the week," said TWU SA/NT Branch Secretary Ian Smith.
"The authorities need to carry out an audit that matches up GPS information on trucks with log books and pay schedules," he added. At least nine experienced drivers have left Garden Grove in just the last few months over conditions at the company.
The TWU called on the South Australian Road Transport Association to stop encouraging companies like Garden Grove to break the rules.
"We are appalled at Sarta's comments in the media defending Garden Grove for working drivers for 17 hours a day. It is not acceptable for drivers to be forced to work these excessive hours and it puts all road users at risk," Smith said.
"Sarta must support legislation to allow scrutiny of the safety risks in transport. It should stop standing by this behaviour and start lobbying wealthy retailers and manufacturers to ensure their transport contracts allow the job to be done safely."
Almost 40% of all workplace deaths this year involve transport workers, according to Safe Work Australia. In the past year, deaths from articulated trucks are up 7.2% and deaths from heavy rigid vehicles are up 4.1%, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics fatal truck crash statistics.
In the 10 years to 2014, over 2,500 people were killed in truck crashes.
Safe Work workplace fatality statistics: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/statistics-and-research/statistics/fatalities/fatality-statistics-industry
Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics fatal truck crash statistics: https://bitre.gov.au/publications/ongoing/fatal_heavy_vehicle_crashes_quarterly.aspx