Drive for gig worker safety

HERALD SUN
Drive for gig worker safety

ONE of the fastest growing sectors in the community is delivery driving.

One in four food or parcel delivery workers is under 25 and 90 per cent are male.

This is also the demographic that is vastly over-represented in road trauma statistics.

These gig economy workers are under pressure: to get food or parcels to customers; from bosses pushing to deliver as much as possible quickly; and a likelihood that the delivery driver is on a motorcycle or bicycle, at an even greater risk of a crash.

In 2020, five gig delivery drivers died in Australia within two months, leading to calls for improved working conditions such as annual leave, sick pay and compensation if they are injured at work.

When we are eagerly waiting for a pizza to be delivered or some new books from Amazon, it’s easy to forget the driver who turns up in the middle of a rainstorm, or via truck-laden traffic.

The Victorian government and Industrial Relations Victoria is looking to draft standards relating to the safety of non-employee, on-demand workers. Some delivery platforms have implemented safety education programs. Last year CouriersPlease launched its Get Home Safe driver safety program, educating drivers around predicting fatigue, scheduling shift breaks, and the dangers of multi-tasking while driving.

At the Fit to Drive Foundation, a Victorian not-for-profit organisation teaching young drivers to make safer decisions on our roads, we are developing similar programs to educate these delivery/ road users. That means teaching how to navigate road rules, laws, and conditions and taking regular breaks.

Companies under pressure to reduce costs often push back at the introduction of new measures, even when it comes to safety, but there is increasing government and community appetite for looking after this (largely young and economically vulnerable) sector of workers.

This is a key priority area of a TAC strategy dealing with those who drive for work.

Our work with young drivers has shown there is limited knowledge about road rules and road risk.

On-demand workers are a particularly diverse group who can’t or won’t prioritise road safety education, even when available.

With Swinburne University, we have developed safety education for the food delivery sector, and are working on the development of further education that is accessible for on-demand workers at anytime, anywhere, on any device.

BRAD CROFTS IS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF FIT TO DRIVE FOUNDATION.

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