Following the establishment of the Joint Taskforce: Food Delivery Rider Safety and a roundtable forum held on 17 December 2020, SafeWork NSW has released draft guidelines for industry consultation and feedback. The guidelines outline existing hazards in the industry, such as poorly managed bikes, fatigue and extreme weather conditions, and the actions that must be taken by delivery platforms, drivers and restaurants to mitigate these risks. The draft guidance is designed to provide information and advice to food delivery platforms, food outlets and food delivery riders, to help them understand and meet their obligations under New South Wales (NSW) work health and safety (WHS) legislation.
The focus of the draft guidance is specifically on workers using a bicycle, motor scooter or motorbike to deliver food or drinks from food outlets to people’s homes, places of work or places of recreation. The guidance also details the duties of those engaged in food delivery services, the common hazards that can cause injuries and the actions that can be taken to manage the hazards. NSW Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said the new guidelines are part of the NSW Government’s commitment to ensuring the health and safety of all employees.
“These laws apply to all workers and all workplaces to ensure safety,” Anderson said. “The fast growth of the gig economy has created uncertainty and confusion in the sector about what each party should be doing to comply with the law and what protections should be in place, particularly when it comes to food delivery riders who are independently contracting to the big platforms.”
SafeWork NSW will continue to consult with industry on the draft guidelines, with a view to finalising them for inclusion in an ‘Industry Safety Action Plan’ for release in April. The guidelines were developed by the Joint Taskforce, led by SafeWork NSW and Transport for NSW. The taskforce was established to investigate recent food delivery rider fatalities. Co-chairs for the taskforce include Sarina Wise from SafeWork NSW, and Ruth Graham and Julie Thompson from Transport for NSW.
NSW Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said delivery platforms, drivers and restaurants must follow the guidelines to mitigate the hazards of the job. “Any life lost on our roads is one too many. We know these food delivery riders are some of our most vulnerable road users,” Constance said. “We want to do everything we can to guarantee they have the proper protections in place and ensure a day at work doesn’t end in tragedy.”
The taskforce has four stages of delivery, with the roundtable forum on 17 December 2020 forming part of Stage One. Stakeholders representing food delivery riders, food delivery platforms, employers, WHS and road safety regulators, NSW government policy agencies, NSW research centres and community members met at this first roundtable forum in December.
Forum participants recognised that improved safety for food delivery riders in NSW can only be achieved if industry, unions, government and the community play their part to create real safety change. They committed to the development of an Industry Action Plan, an evidence-based plan developed collaboratively by the industry, for the industry, with the support of the NSW Government.
As part of Stage One, SafeWork NSW and Transport for NSW worked together to develop best practice guidance on compliance requirements for industry, with consideration of incident analysis, research completed by the Centre for Work Health and Safety, and information provided by the industry stakeholders to the roundtable.
Stage Two involved the investigation and development of an implementation plan, commencing from the start date of the taskforce and completed by 1 February 2021. As part of Stage Two, the taskforce reviewed the data pertaining to food delivery rider fatality and injury crashes, to develop an intelligence profile to inform the development of an implementation plan.
Stage Three involves the coordination of an operational compliance monitoring program to test compliance with laws across multiple agencies, to be undertaken by the taskforce. Appropriate compliance action will be taken where necessary, with Stage Three to be completed by 1 March 2021.
In Stage Four, an evaluation will be conducted to determine the effectiveness of Stages 1–2 of the taskforce, with a findings and evaluation report to be shared with the government. The report is due to be completed by 1 April 2021.