Despite the many crashes arising from the transportation of dangerous goods on South African roads, there are ways to prevent these - if the industry reacts in a responsible and timely manner, according to discussions at a recent Responsible Care Transport Workshop offered by the Chemical and Allied Industries’ Association.
The Workshops were themed upon ‘Driver Management – Method of Improving Professional Driver Performance on our Roads’. Attended by chemical companies transport operators and logistics managers ; transport safety managers; transport company’s health, safety and environmental managers and emergency responders, the workshop provided best practice as well as insight as to what the industry can do to ensure the health and wellness of their drivers, and the safe transportation of chemicals.
Responsible Care (RC), an initiative of the global chemical industry, assists its signatory members in the transport and related sectors, to improve their safety, health and environmental performance for the storage, distribution and transportation of dangerous goods. Through this, RC is able to promote sustainable and safe road and rail transport operations.
Drivers of heavy commercial vehicles play a key role in ensuring that goods are safely delivered to their destination within the required time. According to Richard Durrant, Owner of TRANSHEQ Consulting, the management of professional commercial drivers is therefore critical. In supporting this, managers responsible for drivers need to provide ongoing assistance with training, the drivers’ journey management, and with the risks that they may experience while on the road. Durrant emphasised that according to the South African Occupational Health and Safety Act, the ‘workplace’ is the driver’s truck. Occupational health and safety conditions should apply here too.
The shortage of qualified and experienced drivers as well as factors such as the economy and recession are expected to see road crashes in SA become the fourth leading case of death by 2010. Karien Venter, Road & Traffic Safety Researcher - CSIR Intelligent Systems and Traffic Management, emphasized that there are ways to address this. This would involve incorporating sustainable driver behaviour change through aspects such as training, a workplace road safety programme and the inclusion of specific driving standards in company policies and procedures.
Another imperative is that of the drivers’ health and wellness. Dr Marina Botha, Life Occupational Health Clinical Standards Manager explained that many drivers typically face exposure to chemicals during transfer and resulting from spillages, psychological stress and ergonomic tension. Additionally, many often lead sedentary lifestyles, lack good food choices and experience fatigue.
Companies can address this by implementing a Drivers Medical Programme, suggested Dr Botha. Such a programme should also involve education and training; assessment of medical fitness to drive, medical surveillance; chronic disease management and post incident examination.
With HIV/Aids prevalent amongst drivers, Desire Meyer, Divisional SHERQ Manager for Unitrans Fuel and Chemicals, suggests a Drivers Wellness Programme that can help to address this condition, and prevent any incidences on the road. This initiative should guarantee confidentiality and empower individuals to make positive changes to their lifestyles. Another major issue facing drivers is that of fatigue. Long working hours, prolonged night work and early starting times are the common causes of driver fatigue in the transport industry, explained Markus Immelman, SH&E Manager for Reef Tankers. These need to be considered and addressed to help the driver’s performance on the road.
The legislation pertaining to drivers and the transportation of dangerous goods were also discussed. The soon to be implemented AARTO, or points demerits system, will affect professional drivers, says Keith McMurray, Specialist Advisor for Road Transport Legislation. It is therefore important that businesses consider the impact and controls required to manage the system when it becomes effective. McMurray also highlighted the need for industry to pay more attention to the requirements of SANS 10233 for the marking of packaging for dangerous goods transportation in IBC’s. According to compliance assessments, markings on dangerous goods packaging, including intermediate bulk containers (IBC’s) in general are illegal as many of these fail to display the proper shipping name, UN number or applicable class diamond.
Links Mudaly, Manager of Dangerous Goods for the Railway Safety Regulator (RSR), explained that the new standard – SANS 10405 – The Transportation of Dangerous Goods by Rail – Operational Requirements, Design Requirements and Emergency Preparedness that was published in May 2009 is still in the process of being implemented. The RSR cooperates with other organs of state and institutions like the Department of Mineral Resources, The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the Chemical and Allied Industries’ Association.