Safety audit needed of flight crew transfers after driver contracts Covid

Transport Workers' Union

The Transport Workers’ Union is calling for an audit of transfers of international flight crew after a driver from Sydney airport has been diagnosed with Coronavirus.

The TWU understands that a taxi company that was contracted to transport a cargo plane flight crew from Sydney International Airport.

Richard Olsen, NSW State Secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union called for urgent action to address the breach.

“We understand that no real protocols are in place for flight crew transport despite the Federal Government being responsible for quarantine. Any rules that exist, the Federal Government has allowed to be set up between the airlines and transport companies.”

The Federal Government have allowed commercial transport operators to make their own arrangements with international flight operators.

Transport for NSW following discussions with the TWU has approached Health Departments and the Federal Government to put protocols in place for flight crew transport, but are understand to have been knocked back.

Flight crew transport vehicles (buses, vans and taxis) are not subject to a regulated hygienic cleaning programme. The TWU is also concerned that vehicles used may have been subsequently used for other activities.

Richard Olsen said, “Any rules that exist are set up between the client and commercial operators for flight crew transport and are not, as far as the TWU is aware, subject to the scrutiny of organisations like Transport for NSW, the NSW Police and the Australian Defence Force.

All three of those organisations are involved heavily in the process of transporting quarantining passengers and ensuring a prevention of transmission from passengers to bus drivers.”

Richard Olsen said, “The Covid-19 infection of drivers transporting international flight crew shows huge gaps in the rules surrounding Covid safety for transport workers, and subsequently biosecurity for all Australians.”

“We are keen to understand if companies transporting flight crew are providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), or training to drivers in the use of PPE. That includes facemasks, gloves or the proper cleaning of buses / vans after each trip. Work Health and Safety legislation requires this,” Mr Olsen said.

At Sydney International Terminal, bus drivers transferring international passengers to quarantine hotels are kitted out with PPE including masks and gloves and do not board buses until all passengers are put on board, to minimise contact.

The NSW Police, Australian Defence Force and Transport for NSW are strictly enforcing compliance and Covid safety procedures are in place. That PPE is constantly being reviewed with drivers now wearing surgical standard masks.

Vehicles used for the transfer of quarantined passengers are cleaned after each trip at Sydney International Terminal. The TWU remains involved in ensuring Covid safety protocols are in place for international passenger transport drivers and have been doing that work with members since March 2020 before the Pandemic was officially declared.

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