Gig economy warned to prioritise driver safety

Six food delivery platform operators have been served with improvement notices after a SafeWork compliance blitz in Sydney’s metropolitan area revealed widespread non-compliance with NSW’s workplace health and safety laws.

Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said he was putting the gig economy sector on notice after all but one of the riders observed were found operating in an unsafe manner.

“What we’ve seen is disgraceful – riders out in the dark without high-vis, wearing thongs, cutting in front of trams, using mobile phones and giving passengers a lift while on the job,” Mr Anderson said.

“Enough is enough. In the last 12 months alone four lives have been lost in this industry and I won’t sit on my hands while vulnerable workers are at risk.”

Last weekend, SafeWork issued six improvement notices to six food delivery platforms including Uber Eats, Hungry Panda, Menulog, Deliveroo, Yellow and Chowbus regarding failing to inform and instruct their riders around safe work practices and appropriate safety equipment. Those notices require platforms to make improvements to their safety systems by 14 April or risk a fine of up to $3,600 or prosecution.

The blitz found more than 90 per cent of the riders had inadequate personal protective equipment while around 60 per cent of riders could not demonstrate or refer to any work safety protocols having being provided to them.

SafeWork inspectors will continue to be out in force on Sydney’s streets issuing improvement notices and penalties to anyone who fails to comply with NSW’s work health and safety standards.

“The message to operators is clear – safety must always come first, and we won’t hesitate to prosecute anyone who puts workers lives at risk. Lift your game, improve your systems and make sure riders are aware of how to stay safe on the roads or you will be caught, you will be fined and you will be called out.”

Last month, SafeWork introduced new guidelines to help food delivery operators, drivers and restaurants understand how to fulfil their obligations under the NSW Work Health and Safety Legislation.

The guidelines outline existing hazards in the industry, such as poorly maintained bikes, fatigue and extreme weather conditions, and the actions that must be taken by delivery platforms, drivers and restaurants to mitigate these risks.

“The guidelines make it crystal clear what is required to improve safety and how the laws we have in place apply in this industry. We will continue to monitor compliance and won’t hesitate to take tougher action if behaviours don’t change,” Mr Anderson said.

Data from SafeWork’s compliance activity will be presented to the NSW Government’s Joint Taskforce: Food Delivery Rider Safety, which is due to provide its findings to the Minister in the coming weeks.

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