Following the fatal injuring of a bus driver in 2017, Northern Territory’s Buslink NT Pty Ltd has agreed to a $600,000 enforceable undertaking with the territory’s workplace safety regulator.
NT WorkSafe allege that there had been a number of safety reports on the Australian bus industry which highlighted the dangers of rollaway incidents, as was the case of the incident in question. There had also been a similar incident that was classed as a ‘near miss’ only days before the fatal incident, and WorkSafe allege Buslink NT failed to implement control measures that were appropriate.
A further allegation by the regulator outlined that the failures of the business exposed the worker to risk of death or serious illness, but also risked the health and safety of passengers and pedestrians.
While Buslink NT was charged with six offences, they were later withdrawn. NT WorkSafe can commence proceedings if Buslink fail to comply with the terms of the EU.
The activities in the enforceable undertaking to benefit the work health and safety of the workers, industry and the community are:
Installing MobilEye collision avoidance systems in all 327 buses across Buslink’s Northern Territory and Queensland fleets.
Producing and distributing an instructional video on rollaway bus prevention for bus operators and drivers across Australia.
Working with a partner organisation to deliver a Northern Territory road safety campaign targeting distracted driving.
Bill Esteves, Northern Territory’s Work Health and Safety Regulator, explained that the investigation found no evidence of reckless conduct, which would have precluded the proposed undertaking from being accepted.
“The activities Buslink NT committed to in its enforceable undertaking have been assessed as likely to result in long term, sustainable, measurable and tangible work health and safety benefits for the workplace, the industry and the community.” Mr Esteves said.
“The expected work health and safety benefits will deliver outcomes superior to those expected from a court sanction, in particular the rollaway bus prevention video will ensure that learnings from Buslink NT’s experiences will be communicated across Australia,” Mr Esteves said.
The financial obligations of the proposal are significant, and exceed penalties handed down for similar incidents under equivalent legislation by threefold.
“Following the incident, Buslink NT has worked with the original equipment manufacturers to identify and implement additional engineering safety controls to further reduce the risk of a bus rollaway.”
“All owners and operators of buses are urged to follow suit and review their systems to minimise or eliminate the risk of a bus rollway incident from tragically occurring again,” said Mr Esteves.