This is part one in a three-part series. This presentation features Karen Bow discussing what Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) and the Queensland transport industry are doing to manage safety issues through their Transport Safety Networks.
The focus is to identify practical, low cost/high impact solutions and the primary role of WHSQ is to facilitate and guide the transport operators who attend. They also provide an opportunity for employers to share experiences and talk about safety solutions for changing work environments, and how these might be implemented.
Who is this presentation for?
This presentation is for people interested in the transport industry and innovation in work health and safety.
About the presenter
Karen Bow is the Principal Advisor of the Transport Strategy Group and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) and has major responsibilities in relationship management for internal and external stakeholders.
A key part of her role has been to develop and implement regional transport networks throughout Queensland which focus on building co-operative relationships to improve health and safety in the transport industry.
Karen is a member of the Queensland Road Freight Industry Council—Heavy Vehicle Safety Group, and was awarded Queensland Trucking Woman of the Year in 2013.
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT NRSPP webinar series Transport Safety Networks Angela Juhasz: Good morning everyone. Thank you for joining us this morning, or this afternoon, depending on where you’ve joined us from, for another special webinar presentation. This is the third webinar from the NRSPP webinar series. I would like to warmly welcome Karen Bow, who will be presenting for us today. How you going over there, Karen? Karen Bow: Very well, thank you, Angela. Angela Juhasz: Wonderful. Well, I’m sure everyone’s keen to hear about your presentation. But before we commence, we’ll just run through a few housekeeping items. Would you mind changing the slide for me Karen? Thank you. That’s me over there. So my name is Angela Juhasz and I’ll be your friendly webinar moderator today. I’m also joined by Jerome Carslake, who is the – is the manager of the NRSPP program. So it’s great to have him in the studio also, for special comments. Our presenter today, as I started mentioning earlier, is Karen Bow. She’s joining us from Queensland, from the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. Before we move on with her presentation, just a couple of bits and bobs on how to use your control panel, for those of you who are first time webinar users. At this point, I’d also like to mention that we are aiming for about 30 minutes today, and we are recording today’s session, which you will all be able to listen to once again at your leisure. In your control panel, if I could just direct you to the left hand side of your screen, is your questions box there. So if you have any questions for Karen or, perhaps, for myself or Jerome, please feel free to type those through. Do not be shy. We’ll answer them as we go. Now without further ado, I will hand over to Karen, because I know I’m very keen to hear about what she has to say. Welcome Karen. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your involvement with this project? Karen Bow: Thank you, Angela. I’m very passionate about safety in the transport industry. I grew up in a transport family in Canada. My dad was a long distance truck driver, my brothers – everyone who sat around our kitchen table – and I’m very comfortable speaking with the transport industry. I came on board to the transport strategy group, which was created in 2010 at Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. I was presented with some statistics that I found extremely alarming. I – my biggest concern was that this is not something that the industry would be proud of. I asked have you asked industry what the problems are? At that point, we hadn’t started to really discuss anything with industry, and I felt that they were the ones that were going to give us the answers. So today, I’m going to give you a bit of an overview. I’m going to give you some of the statistics, how they were created, why, who comes along, and what industry is saying about them. These are some of the stats that I was presented with when I came on. That transport and storage industry has a serious injury rate that’s nearly twice the all industry rate. I find that very alarming. When you break it down even further to the road freight industry, it’s actually quite significantly higher, with 29.5 serious claims per 1,000 employees. What we found out at the ATA conference earlier in the year was that 92% of these injuries are happening when the driver’s not driving the vehicle. That means that’s it’s while they’re working around the trucks. I find that that’s pretty significant in the industry. Stakeholder communication is, I think, the key to managing this and improving the industry. So we came up with a way of bringing industry together to talk about how to improve the industry. The Transport Safety Networks encourage communication, they share innovative ideas. They actually give us, as the regulator, a better understanding of safety management in the industry. The focus of the groups is to improve workplace health and safety management and identify some of the issues that are impacting. One of the key things was being able to identify some of the barriers to managing safety. So finding out where the barriers were, where the gaps were. Once we took the focus Page 2 of 7 off the individual workplace, we were able to get some really good information from industry, because they all have ideas on how to make it safer. It allows us, as the regulator, to develop our solutions or any of our strategies to really target what industry needs. Once we have that consultation with them and we talk about what they need, we’ve got their buy-in. So when we do run out a campaign, we get overrun with people wanting to be involved in it. It helps us to share anything that comes from industry, and it helps us to learn and evaluate from all of the experiences out there. When setting them up, we did it three stages. The first stage were one-on-one industry visits, where I would cold call on industry and I would go out and speak to the manager and, basically, ask them how things were going. You know, I would say to them that I’m not here to do an audit, because I’m sure that their safety management would look fantastic on paper. But what I really wanted to know was how was it going in a practical sense? How was it – how were they managing safety and where were the problems? As I said, once we started that process, industry just started opening up and sharing some of those issues with us in very single one of the visits. I realised after about 250 that that was the tip of the iceberg and I couldn’t continue to do that. So the best way was to bring industry together and have them all in one place. The second stage was a workshop. We’d invite industry along and, at that point, we would present a lot of information to them. We would have speakers, PowerPoint presentations, and a really good discussion. While they were in the room and very engaged, we would talk to them about the possibility of having regular Transport Safety Network meetings. Everybody seemed to think that that was a great idea. So within a month of that workshop, we would hold the first Transport Safety Network meeting in the area. It proved to be a very successful venture and now we have eight of them. So as you can see, they’re located all the way through Queensland, in every one of the major cities. In Brisbane, we’ve actually placed them in the transport hubs. So you’ll see that the Port of Brisbane/Gateway and the Ipswich/Brisbane West – they’re kind of named for catchment areas so that if someone’s just over the Gateway Bridge, if I called it the Port of Brisbane network, they probably wouldn’t think it related to them. So being able to name them as a catchment area was to draw more people into the network. The networks meet four times a year. We let industry actually decide how they would meet, when they would meet and how often. Out of respect for the industry and recognition that their peak period is December and January, we’ve basically picked February, May, August and November. We asked each one of the networks, at their first meeting, to pick a systematic schedule; so a particular day of the week and a week of the month. So it might be the third Tuesday of the month or the second Wednesday. Thankfully, they don’t overlap. The networks are facilitated by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland. We send out the meeting notices, we collate the agenda from industry and circulate that. We do the minutes and send them out after the meetings. We share the minutes from all of the Transport Safety Networks at every meeting, because things that are discussed in Brisbane are obviously very important to people that are in Cairns, or they’re going the same issues in Townsville. So it’s been a really good thing to share the minutes. The agenda is set by industry. It’s not hard and fast, because sometimes, what industry really needs to talk about, they don’t know until they get to the meeting. For instance, when we had all of the serious flooding and the significant events in Queensland early last year, it was very important for industry to have a discussion about how everyone was managing those natural disasters and getting their fleets back home, getting their drivers home, how they were managing the hours of the drivers and the safety. So the meeting changed from what we had on the agenda to a very robust discussion about how everyone was managing it. We do have some standing agenda items on our agenda, and that’s a workplace health and safety update, a hot topic and some issues from other minutes. The update from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland – I think industry is really appreciating that. Because it was a really good way of managing the change over to the harmonised legislation. It’s really good on keeping them abreast of any changes Page 3 of 7 or any trends that we identify, or any prosecutions that may be happening out in the industry and any learnings that we have. The hot topic, I think that’s one of the most critical points of the meetings. It’s where we set an agenda item for the next meeting with industry. I encourage them to pick a hot topic at the end so that there is some activity or something that they need to do before they come to the next meeting. Quite often, that’ll involve consultation with their workforce or identifying what their top three issues are on their risk register or just some sort of work that they need to do before they come to the next meeting. Some of the hot topics, as you can see, are right throughout the industry. The managing safety at external sites – it comes up at every single Transport Safety Network meeting. It’s one of the biggest issues, because there’s that lack of control when you get to the other site. You tell your employees what they need to do, you get them engaged in your workplace safety management system. But you’re not there. They’re out there doing what you pay them to do, and that’s work on everyone else’s site. The effective consultation and communication – that’s been a really good one. Because it really gets – you can break down to the issues that are important. Who do you need to talk to? What do you need to talk about? When do you need to have those discussions? Another one of the really big ones is the aging workforce. That ties in with the achieving cultural change. So that’s always a very good discussion at any meeting. It’s hard to change some of the practices that are entrenched in the workplace in the transport industry, such as when we were – when some companies were eliminating dogs and cheater bars from their workplaces. The feedback from industry or from the drivers is there’s nothing better, we’ve been using these for 80 years. Trying to educate them that there are safer alternative load restraint devices out there is a real challenge. But we are achieving some of those cultural changes out there. What is developed from the hot topics is quite often an ‘at a Glance’ document. That’s industry helping industry. These aren’t government documents, they’re owned by industry. It’s – I think it’s a very valuable lesson on how industry communicates with each other and that we, as the regulator, can learn how to best communicate with an industry that is really tough to get to. The reporting and recording near misses was the first ‘at a Glance’ that was created. It was about 25 operators sitting around a table with their internal documents and looking at why do they have such a low reporting and recording rate. It was very hard to get a 56 year old truck driver to come in and say geez, I nearly hurt myself today. It just doesn’t seem to happen. So they looked at their reporting and recording documents and they realised that not one of them had a clear definition of what a near miss was. Not one of them had why it was important to – to report. I know that you’re invincible, but you could stop your mate here from getting hurt. Not one of them had what the information was going to be used for, and they didn’t have any reporting back sort of process recorded in it. So they created an ‘at a Glance’ document that said these things may help improve the reporting and recording of near misses. Fatigue is not just an on road issue. That one’s a very interesting one, because when you mention fatigue in the heavy vehicle industry, automatically they go to log books and driving hours. There is so much more to managing fatigue. What they highlighted were some of the things that managers needed to be aware of to manage – to have a good safety management system around fatigue. Some of the indicators; changes in appearances, making more mistakes than usual, maybe a bit of irritability. Then they actually went into some of the solutions and places they could refer some of their employees to, if they needed some help. Some of the changes they could make to their workplace to manage fatigue. Obviously, if you’ve got a newborn or teenagers, you’re probably losing sleep either way, so it’s good to know that that’s happening in someone’s life so that you can actually work around it. Communication plan for workers in isolation; that became part of the legislation in January this year, where – or actually, last year – where everyone needed to have a communication plan in place. One of the networks took that on as a challenge and that’s the one that I have here on the slide. They looked at what you should be considering when you’re developing that communication plan and some of the possible solutions you can include in it. Page 4 of 7 The client and customer framework; that, as I said, is about who do you need to talk to? What do you need to talk about? When do you need to have those conversations? That was really important for industry, especially for the smaller operator. Obviously, the big operators, they don’t have a problem with that. But the small businesses, with maybe five trucks or less – it’s a really difficult thing to approach a customer and have that discussion, so it was good to articulate that for them. What we’re finding is that they’re openly sharing some information at these meetings. What surprises me is the internal documents and processes that they’re sharing with other operators, they’re sharing with the regulator in the room, and they seem to have no problem with that. What we have are some photos here of some safety initiatives that are low cost, yet high impact in the industry. The top one is a little rubber device that you can put on the maxi brake that can stop someone from releasing it. It’s not going to do a lot. You could remove it. But it’s a visual or a physical impairment to actually releasing that maxi brake without checking to make sure that whoever’s working around the vehicle is safe. The second picture, at the bottom, is a device that can be retrofitted to any vehicle. It’s an airbrake alarm that, if you open the door and you haven’t engaged the maxi brake, it will sound the alarm and you know that you need to immobilise the vehicle. We’ve identified that that’s a serious trend in the industry; that there are a lot of injuries and fatalities that are happening from failure to immobilise. So being able to share these low cost, high impact safety initiatives with operators in the industry has been a really good thing for industry. Who’s involved? Well, we have over 11,000 contacts on our database now and it grows every single day. It can be from transport operators, both national and state. You can see that the bus and taxi industry are in it. I think the supply chain is one of the most important additions, because it allows the end user to engage with the operators in a forum where they can discuss some of the difficulties and get both sides of that supply chain story. So it’s been really good to have them join our Transport Safety Networks. We have quite a range of people involved, from national safety managers to OHS managers and the owner operators. The involvement at the meetings is very limited there, but we have a lot of them on the database that like to get the minutes. Because they find that they get a lot of learnings from the minutes and they can ring up and talk to other operators and find out a little bit more about those issues. The depot managers, I think, are gaining the most from these Transport Safety Networks, because they’re realising that they’re not alone. They’re not the only ones having difficulties with these issues. They’re industry issues. They’re not an individual operator. So it’s been very encouraging for them and I think they get the most out of it. The two most successful are the Port of Brisbane/Gateway Transport Safety Network and the Ipswich Brisbane West. I’ll give you a little bit of information about the work they’ve been doing. It was the Port of Brisbane/Gateway network that asked for the Transport Safety Showcase last year. It was held out at the Port of Brisbane in August. It’s probably the most successful event that Workplace Health and Safety has ever run in the transport industry. There was somewhere between 350 and 400 operators that came through the date – through the gate on the day. It was a chance for industry to showcase what they’re doing to improve safety of the workforce. It’s something that industry’s not particularly good at, is beating their chest about what they’re doing well. So for them to come and take the time to showcase some of the initiatives that they’ve implemented in their workplaces and share with the rest of industry, I think, was a fantastic event and a good outcome. We’re about to have another one. Another network has taken on the challenge to have the Transport Safety Showcase 2014. I’ll talk about that in a minute. This network has also invited all of the other networks to a meeting earlier this year to talk about some of the design issues that they believe are contributing to falls in the industry. At that meeting, we were – there were about 48 operators that came to the meeting. We were able to identify what are actually design issues that could be improved and what are actually management issues where, by implementing some sort of a process or safety management system around it, they could actually address those issues? It was very good for industry to look at that and collectively identify which was which. The biggest thing that came out of the meeting was the feeling that a lot of the safety initiatives that are being fitted – retrofitted to vehicles now should be actually stock standard in the design of the vehicles. Page 5 of 7 We – after that meeting, we had a meeting with the Transport Industry Council and all of the manufacturers were at that meeting. We were able to talk about what some of the concerns and issues that were raised by industry were. They’re happy to come to the next meeting of the Transport Safety Network to have further discussions with industry. So I think it’s a great move forward; of bringing the designers and the manufacturers together with industry to talk about what would actually make it safer. They were the ones that created the ‘at a Glance’ document for effective consultation and, as I said, the feedback from the smaller operators is that it’s a really good document for them. The Ipswich Brisbane West is the other big Transport Safety Network that we have. It has around 25 operators on a regular basis. They were the first ones to create an ‘at a Glance’ document. When that document was finished, we sent it around to all of the other networks for value adding and their input, to make sure that we had it right, see if there was anything else they wanted to add, before we said that that was the final document. They’re the ones that are having the Transport Safety Showcase on October 21st – so a couple of weeks from now. We have nearly 200 operators already registered and, at this showcase, we’ll be having the Volvo Rollover Simulator and the ATA Safety Truck in attendance, which I think is fantastic for industry. Once again, industry is bringing vehicles to showcase what they’re doing to improve safety. We’ll have a cinema – a transport safety cinema this time, where we’ll just continually loop operator safety videos that they’re using in their businesses. So people will be able to go in and see those and see what everyone else is doing. It’s at the Toll Karawatha depot, the new big facility that Toll has built. It’s from 8:30 until 11 on the 21st of October. So it’s not too late to register. This poster that you can see on the slide was created by that Transport Safety Network. They want to – they wanted to have a poster that they could put up in their depots that would demonstrate to their clients and customers, and also their employees, that they’re working collectively to improve safety in the industry. As you can see by the logos at the bottom, there’s quite a few that are committed to safety in this Transport Safety Network. What does industry think? This is something the feedback that’s coming from industry. “A free exchange of learnings and ideas targeting increased safety and awareness” – that’s pretty good, because it shows that we’re listening to what industry wants and what they’re saying, and we’re able to target all of our campaigns and strategies toward what industry really needs. It’s “refreshing and enlightening”. It’s “a communication forum where everyone gets a say” – so everyone is welcome and you don’t – there’s no joining or anything. You just get put on the list and you’re aware of when the meetings are and everyone’s involved, which I think is fantastic. From the smaller operator to the big multinational companies. It’s “a good initiative”, bringing companies together. It’s “promoting the information sharing” -- so they don’t just share while they’re at the meetings. We found that a lot of them are networking outside of the meetings. We see a lot of operators exchanging cards to talk about some of the safety initiatives that are brought up at the networks. My personal favourite is “what looked like it was going to take a generation to change is now clearly achievable in the foreseeable future”. To hear industry say that has been a real boost for what we do in the transport strategy group here in Workplace Health and Safety and to know that we are making a difference out there. We did a survey of the Transport Safety Networks late last year. The feedback that came from industry was that 52% of the people that responded said that they had made a change in their workplace as a result of attending the Transport Safety Networks. I think that’s a very positive outcome and it shows that changes can be made, and are being made out there to improve safety in the industry. I’m happy to take any questions. Angela Juhasz: Thank you so much for that, Karen. Indeed, Jerome and I were just talking here about what an amazing initiative this is. I’m just kind of sorry it hasn’t quite come to Victoria yet. Is there –are there any plans to take it outside of Queensland? Karen Bow: I know that New South Wales WorkCover sent a representative to the last round of Transport Safety Networks to talk to industry about whether or not they would like to come. They asked questions about what brings them to the meetings, what keeps them coming back, what are the aspects Page 6 of 7 that they think could be improved on. They’re planning on rolling out two in Sydney. My dream would be to see two rolled out in every capital city around Australia, because I know that industry would like to see that. So if that happens, it would be a great outcome. Angela Juhasz: Absolutely. I’ll just take this moment to remind everyone that we’ve still got a few more minutes to take questions, so please don’t be shy. If there’s anything you’d like to know from Karen, please send those questions through. Jerome and I have got a few questions here, Karen, if you wouldn’t mind taking ours. Karen Bow: Okay. Angela Juhasz: I was wondering how do you encourage open and honest sharing when people might be fearful of legal repercussions? Karen Bow: I think it’s taken a couple of years to actually build that trust. Newcomers often tend to be very quiet. But one of the first things that we did at the first meeting was create a term of reference for the network. Part of that was a clear understanding that this is about consultation and communication and that we’re here to assist industry in managing safety. That nothing that was said at the meeting would be ever passed on to inspectors. However, they needed to recognise that an inspector could still call on their workplace, but it wouldn’t be connected in any way. I think it’s just working with industry and building that trust. Angela Juhasz: Wonderful. Okay, a question here from David. David’s asking are you aware of any initiatives to establish similar cooperation in other jurisdictions? Karen Bow: Just the one in New South Wales, where they are rolling out two Transport Safety Networks. I believe there’ll be one on the north side of Sydney and one on the south side. Angela Juhasz: Wonderful. Jerome, did you have anything you wanted to ask? Jerome Carslake: What were some of the major sort of barriers that you sort of really found in overcoming, in the early sort of stages to actually get the business case up to – to basically get governments behind supporting the idea? Karen Bow: I think the biggest barrier was a lack of understanding of the industry itself on some of the difficulties out there; that you can’t bring your workforce together and have a discussion with them like you can in manufacturing or retail or some of the other industries. That the mass – the – I guess, the number of regulators that play in this space and what the difficulties are for transport; each one of them looks at what their role is, but they didn’t look at the big picture of – you know, there’s TMR, there’s QPS, there’s the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, there’s Workplace Health and Safety. We’re all pulling industry in a different direction, or in the direction towards safety, but all in isolation. So being able to get industry to come together and explain to the our facilitators in the various regions some of the difficulties in managing safety in this industry, and some of the intricacies of the industry itself, was probably the biggest hurdle. Jerome Carslake: Wonderful. I noted in… KB: I think one of the benefits… Angela Juhasz: Sorry Karen, you go. Karen Bow: I was just going to say I think that one of the benefits is the stats in Queensland – the statistics that were reported yesterday at our Dangerous Good Forum by our executive director were that there’s been a 16% decrease in injury rates in Queensland. I do believe that’s because we’ve improved the focus on safety in the transport industry. So that’s just in the transport industry. I’m very proud to say that there is an improvement out there. Jerome Carslake: I noticed in one of your earlier slides, you listed the taxi industry being part of it as well. How have they sort of incorporated the learnings with the heavy vehicle sector as well? Have they sort of Page 7 of 7 picked up the sharing and fatigue and those sort of approaches? Because I notice how it’s shifting beyond just the heavy vehicle sector. Karen Bow: It is shifting, to a slight degree. There – it’s not a massive involvement by the taxi industry. It’s similar to when the bus industry came on board, where initially, they treaded very carefully, because they didn’t think it would relate to them. However, now we have a lot of bus operators involved in it and their industry associations. I think the taxi industry – it’s just very early, their involvement. It’s more out of curiosity than anything. The fact that they’re able to ask some of the questions about fatigue, about sharing the road with other vehicles, things like that; hopefully, we’ll see that sector grow. Angela Juhasz: That’s great. Look, I’ve got a couple more questions… Karen Bow: Their involvement, at least. Angela Juhasz: Excellent. I’ve just got a couple more questions, and I know that we’ve sort of eaten into our 30 minute timeframe, so I’ll be quick. But a great question here from Martin. Martin’s asking what incentives were used to encourage the participation from operators? Karen Bow: I think the three staged approach was the most effective. It was that one on – one-on-one visit in the early stages, and then it just became word of mouth. So when I was setting one up in one of the remote areas, regional areas; say, Cairns, for instance. I would go up for four days and I would do probably somewhere between 13 to 16 one-on-one visits with industry and just have that one-on-one discussion and raise the interest. Then we would immediately schedule a workshop to bring them together. I think the word of mouth from industry that, hey, the regulator wants to work with us and is really listening is how we got that buy-in originally. And like I said, once we got that interest at the workshop, then we went for the Transport Safety Network within a month. Jerome Carslake: Great, thank you for that, Karen. Karen Bow: It really does take a lot of effort and a lot of encouragement. Jerome Carslake: Great, thanks Karen. Two questions combined from Caroline and Russel. Basically, they were sort of saying have you found unions and trade associations being supportive and providers of road rail participate IG ports, Brisbane, Queensland Motorways? Karen Bow: Yes. We have – we don’t have Queensland Motorways, but we have RACQ, we have a lot of industry associations. The Port of Brisbane actually holds or facilitates the Transport Safety Network out at the Port of Brisbane/Gateway more often than anyone else. They were very supportive in the Transport Safety Showcase, where they gave us the venue to hold the Transport Safety Showcase. So we do get a lot of support from them. With the unions, we have a couple of unions that attend in some of the regional areas. In the early stages, we were very clear that this was about assisting operators and managers on having – implementing safety management systems that would improve safety for their workers and that it wasn’t ever going to be a forum where we would invite employees or workers along to participate. So the unions are very supportive. They actually will share the information with some of their members and encourage people to come along. Angela Juhasz: Karen, thank you so much for your time today. I can tell you talk with such passion and, you know, this is, indeed, a really fantastic initiative that I certainly enjoyed learning more about today. So I hope the audience can join me in virtually giving you a round of applause. You’ve been fantastic to listen to today. So thank you very much for your time. Thank you so much for our audience who tuned in today. Hope you can join us again next time. Bye bye. Karen Bow: Thank you. [End of Transcript]