Food Delivery Rider Safety
Food delivery platforms such as Uber Eats, Deliveroo and DoorDash, came under the spotlight after the deaths of five delivery riders in the space of 2 months in 2020. The New South Wales Government announced a taskforce to examine the deaths and identify safety improvements for the industry. This article looks at the findings of the taskforce, the proposed laws and the reaction to them.
The taskforce assessed all available incident and crash data related to food delivery riders and deployed members to areas in Sydney where crashes were common. The taskforce identified five key safety issues:
- compliance with helmet laws;
- riding in a safe manner;
- using a device when riding;
- breaking road rules;
- roadworthiness of bicycles and the use of non-compliant e-bikes.
Other issues included a lack of hi-vis clothing and adequate footwear, and a lack of training.
Stakeholders developed an Industry Action Plan to improve rider safety, with food delivery platforms committing to 50 reforms. The 12-month plan began in April 2021.
Police will be tasked with conducting ongoing enforcement activity to ensure food delivery riders comply with road rules.
The state’s work safety regulator will be required to:
- issue quarterly data analysis of notifiable safety incidents to key stakeholders, including food delivery platforms, to help improve compliance with safety laws
- conduct compliance monitoring of the industry, including the issuing of warnings and/or improvement notices;
- finalise a Guide to Managing WHS in the Food Delivery Industry, as well as fact sheets about key messages from the guide in multiple languages, and make them publicly available.
- facilitate monitoring and reporting under the agreed Industry Action Plan (IAP) for 12 months;
- test compliance with Improvement Notices issues under section 191 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 during an enforcement blitz in March 2021.
The government will consider options for potential improvements to WHS legislation to help SafeWork achieve compliance.
Transport for NSW
This agency will be required to support implementation of the IAP by providing expertise and resources to improve rider visibility, road safety knowledge, e-bike information; enforcement and infrastructure. This will include providing information to food delivery platforms to ensure delivery riders are using safe and compliant bicycles, The agency will also be asked to provide guidance on developing hi-visibility delivery bags such as through the use of retro-reflective or fluorescent material or reflective straps.
The government has stated the laws will create “ the toughest safety requirements for food delivery platforms and riders anywhere in Australia” . The laws have been met with criticism from food delivery riders and their unions, with the Transport Workers Union (TWU) withdrawing from the taskforce in April 2021, citing concerns the taskforce was caving to pressure from food delivery platforms.
The TWU states the laws ignore the effects of time pressures, wages and working conditions on rider safety, pointing to the fact riders can be sacked for failing to meet unrealistic delivery deadlines, and that many riders earn less than the minimum wage of $20.33 an hour.
Food delivery riders agree there is a clear link between income and health and safety for the riders, and say better pay is the only way to improve safety in the industry. They said the laws will do little to change the way riders operate.
The laws are expected to be finalised by 1 November 2021.
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