What you need to know about supply chain resilience, mandatory testing and wellbeing: Covid-19 update

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to present the heavy vehicle industry with challenges however industry associations and fleets are working together to do what’s best to keep the supply chain strong.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) continues its work with government and industry to provide advice and coordinated information on the current changes to interstate and intra-state travel as per the relevant health requirements of each state.

“Despite the challenges, personally I’ve never been prouder to have been involved in an industry that has shown a remarkable ability to adapt and remain resilient in the face of the on-going changes brought about in response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said NHVR CEO, Sal Petroccitto.

“I believe that sentiment is echoed by many Australians who recognise the difficulty of the operating environment and are grateful for the efforts to continue to operate and underpin Australia’s economy.”

At the time of writing, according to the NHVR, Covid-19 testing and border pass requirements for heavy vehicles are as below. For more information click here. The Regulator will also post updates via its official Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Australian Capital Territory
Is a border pass required? No.
Is a mandatory Covid-19 test required? No, but it is recommended.

New South Wales
Is a border pass required? Yes.
Is a mandatory Covid-19 test required? Yes.

Northern Territory
Is a border pass required? Yes.
Is a mandatory Covid-19 test required? Yes.

Is a border pass required? Yes.
Is a mandatory Covid-19 test required? Yes.

South Australia
Is a border pass required? Yes.
Is a mandatory Covid-19 test required? Yes.

Is a border pass required? Yes.
Is a mandatory Covid-19 test required? Yes.

Is a border pass required? Yes.
Is a mandatory Covid-19 test required? Yes.

Western Australia
Is a border pass required? Yes.
Is a mandatory Covid-19 test required? Yes.

The NHVR urges drivers to take the time to take the test.

“All heavy vehicle drivers operating under Standard hours, BFM or AFM are reminded that taking a Covid test is a permitted personal activity under the National Personal Use Exemption Notices,” the NHVR said in a statement.

“The exemption recognises that heavy vehicle drivers may need to use their fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle for personal reasons from time to time if they cannot reasonably access alternative means of transport.

“These notices allow a driver up to one additional hour of time to complete permitted personal activities if the vehicle is unloaded and certain conditions are met. The exemption only applies to activities at either end of a shift, or at any time during a 24-hour break.”

Also, a Covid-19 toolbox talk kit is available to assist staff as part of a business’ Safety Management System.

“The toolbox talk kit includes a series of quick guides, videos, checklists and templates as part of the NHVR’s wider suite of Safety Management System guidance materials for industry use,” the NHVR said in a statement.

“The toolbox talk information focuses on Covid safety associated with heavy vehicles, workplaces, general hygiene – including wearing face masks – and positive mental health actions.”

NHVR Safety Assurance Director, Greg Fill, said all transport operators should continue to have safety conversations with their staff and drivers to reduce the risk of transmission within their workplace, including when handling freight or interacting with other parties in the supply chain.

“Toolbox talks between management and staff are one of the easiest and most effective ways to share important safety information and reinforce responsibility for everyone’s safety,” he said. “The NHVR’s materials can be easily modified to include company information such as logos and additional topics that are specific to businesses. This could include how to report safety incidents and what to do if staff are sick or notice symptoms.”

Confidential reporting line is open

The NHVR also has a Heavy Vehicle Confidential Reporting Line (HVCRL) which is ready to assist with the reporting of safety issues across the Chain of Responsibility (CoR).

Fill said the current changes in operating conditions due to Covid-19 had increased the likelihood of stress on drivers and operators.

“This has been a challenging time for our industry, but we don’t want it to worsen by people putting others in danger,” he said.

“The HVCRL team are ready and willing to assist with resolving safety issues across the supply chain, such as inappropriate or undue pressure at the depot, the distribution centre or the drop-off point.

“The pressure is being compounded by additional requirements around borders, as well as hygiene and mask-wearing requirements that drivers are having to manage.

“Now more than ever, it’s critical that all businesses follow the rules to keep our industry safe and Australia moving.”

Operators or drivers concerned about being asked to sign or perform a contract that is in breach of CoR laws should contact the NHVR’s Confidential Reporting Line on 1800 931 785.

Mandatory Covid-19 testing for freight and logistics operators following changes to QLD Freight Protocol

RoadFreight NSW has announced from 1am Friday 23 July 2021, mandatory Covid-19 testing for freight and logistics operators will come into effect along with changed requirements under QLD Freight Protocol.

“Mandatory testing will help to keep our essential drivers, their families, and the community safe from the spread of Covid-19.” said Simon O’Hara of RoadFreight NSW.

“The QLD Freight Protocol has been updated in response to changes in the Border Restrictions Direction (No. 28) and Queensland Border Declaration pass requirements(Freight and logistics). These updates will also come into effect from 1am Friday 23 July 2021.”

Mandatory testing regimes will reportedly be in place for freight and logistics operators entering Queensland from QLD declared Covid-19 hotspots.

“If you are asymptomatic and undertaking mandatory Covid-19 testing as a freight and logistics operator, you are not required to isolate while awaiting a test result,” said O’Hara.

“If you are symptomatic or tested for any reason other than as a freight and logistics operator, you must continue to follow all relevant public health advice, including isolating until a negative test result is received and you are symptom-free.”

For more information, see the official Queensland health alert.

“Thank you for your continued efforts to keep freight moving safely and we will continue to keep you updated on the latest advice on Queensland Health requirements as they are released,” said O’Hara.

“Importantly, support continues for those in the transport, freight and logistics industry as these are considered essential activities.

“Whilst TMR is happy to assist with industry questions, 134 COVID (134 268) has been set up to assist with fast responses to queries.

“Further information about the Queensland border restrictions, including questions and answers, can be found on the border restrictions webpage.”

A roundup of recent fleet activities to combat Covid-19 and maintain positive wellbeing

Gilders Transport and Logistics has advised it is an essential service provider as well as a registered Covid safe business.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Gilders have placed the health and safety of our employees, customers, and partners a priority,” Gilders said in a statement.

“We will continue to manage the evolving situation in each major city within the Government guidelines and the advice of health authorities as we have over the past 18 months. Our team wish all our customers, partners, and the wider community a safe return to normality. We are in this together and we are here to support you.”

Meanwhile, Silk Contract Logistics is operating across New South Wales with heightened Covid safe measures in place.

“Interstate borders (for authorised workers from NSW) will not close to freight movement across Australia, however, permits and allowances to cross have tightened and may tighten further,” Silk Contract Logistics said in a statement.

The company has also actioned paperless systems, stricter sanitation, hygiene controls, social distancing, alternating team schedules among other stringent changes to standard operating procedure.

Border Express continues to provide Australia-wide Covid-19 safe and compliant operations throughout Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia lockdowns.

Aware of the hazards of travelling in remote and regional areas, MC operator trainees at Qube Bulk, West Perth, recently engaged in a first responder training course in conjunction with Western Roads Federation and TraumaSim Group.

“The training covered life-saving techniques, including how to respond when arriving on the scene of an accident, emergency first aid, personal safety and other critical knowledge,” Qube said in a statement. “Trauma simulation props and scenario-based activities provided practical learning opportunities for the trainees.”

The company reiterates the importance of providing important training for its team members in the event they need to put their vital first responder skills in to practice.

Hi-Trans Express has also consolidated important Covid-19 update information.

“Please be assured that we are continuing to provide Australia-wide Covid-19 Safe and compliant operations,” Hi-Trans Express said.

“We appreciate the sacrifices everyone is making, particularly in NSW and VIC. For many of our critical operational workers, this involves getting tested every three days.

“Thanks to the ongoing efforts of our staff and community, our Covid-19 Management Plan has proven effective in protecting our people and workplaces to date. The prevention measures are reviewed daily and are updated to reflect the latest government advice.”

Review the latest updates, restrictions and public exposure sites in your area.

Parcel delivery company, StarTrack, announced on 20 July 2021 that it expected delays in New South Wales.

“With the extended lockdown impacting some of our delivery operations, including airline capacity, and the increase in online shopping similar to volumes experienced in the lead up to Christmas, customers may experience delivery delays in some parts of New South Wales.

“We remain fully committed to continuing delivery throughout our network as safely and quickly as possible.”

Abletts Transport released a statement on 8 July 2021, outlining the steps it is taking to minimise the spread of Covid-19. It requested that nobody attend its sites for 14 days along with a range of Covid safe precautions and guidelines.

Fred’s Interstate Transport has announced it is now a registered Covid safe company.

“As part of our commitment to the health and safety of our staff, customers and the community we have now introduced additional measures throughout our business including new signage, hygiene and cleaning protocols, and social distancing guidelines,” the company said in a statement. “Please note that visitors to our Shepparton Depot must make a booking prior to entry. Our NSW and Queensland depots will not be accessible during this period until further notice.”

Mainfreight implemented coronavirus protocols in March 2020. In addition to social distancing, personal hygiene, regular cleaning and other guidelines, staff are advised to inform their supervisor if they have been in risk areas, including China, South Korea, Northern Italy, Japan, Iran, Singapore, Hong Kong, US and Thailand. The company is also posting regular regional updates.

A month ago, Toll Group, via social media, emphasised the need to be more mindful of maintaining mental wellbeing. This post followed news of ongoing social distancing and travel restrictions which can be a stressor for many people.

“The UN recognises yoga as a tool for not only physical wellbeing but to help cope with the stress of uncertainty and isolation,” said Toll. “Melissa Perenc from our Learning and Development team, who is also a yoga instructor, shares some basic yoga poses in her e-book.”

The e-book details the benefits of detoxing and demonstrates various yoga exercises from warming up to balancing and standing and performing yin poses to destress.