Bus Company commits $660k to improve safety

NT WorkSafe has accepted a $660k enforceable undertaking from Buslink NT Pty Ltd over the tragic death of a bus driver, who was fatally injured as a result of a bus rollaway incident in 2017.

NT WorkSafe alleged despite numerous safety reports in the Australian bus industry highlighting the dangers of bus rollaway incidents and a Buslink bus being involved in a similar near miss days earlier, Buslink NT failed to implement adequate control measures.

NT WorkSafe further alleges this failure not only exposed the worker to the risk of death or serious illness, but also had the potential of placing the health and safety of their passengers and nearby pedestrians at risk.

Buslink NT was charged with six offences under section 32 of the Work Health and Safety (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 for failing in its duty to protect its drivers, passengers and the community from the risk of rollaway incidents.

The six charges have been withdrawn, but NT WorkSafe can commence proceedings if Buslink NT fail to comply with the terms of the undertaking.

The activities in the enforceable undertaking to benefit the work health and safety of the workers, industry and the community are:

  • Installing MobilEye collision avoidance systems in all 327 buses across Buslink’s Northern Territory and Queensland fleets.
  • Producing and distributing an instructional video on rollaway bus prevention for bus operators and drivers across Australia.
  • Working with a partner organisation to deliver a Northern Territory road safety campaign targeting distracted driving.

The Northern Territory’s Work Health and Safety Regulator Bill Esteves said the NT WorkSafe investigation found no evidence of reckless conduct, which would have precluded the proposed undertaking from being accepted.

“The activities Buslink NT committed to in its enforceable undertaking have been assessed as likely to result in long term, sustainable, measurable and tangible work health and safety benefits for the workplace, the industry and the community.” Mr Esteves said.

“The expected work health and safety benefits will deliver outcomes superior to those expected from a court sanction, in particular the rollaway bus prevention video will ensure that learnings from Buslink NT’s experiences will be communicated across Australia,” Mr Esteves said.

The financial obligations of the proposal are significant, and exceed penalties handed down for similar incidents under equivalent legislation by threefold.

“Following the incident, Buslink NT has worked with the original equipment manufacturers to identify and implement additional engineering safety controls to further reduce the risk of a bus rollaway.”

“All owners and operators of buses are urged to follow suit and review their systems to minimise or eliminate the risk of a bus rollway incident from tragically occurring again,” said Mr Esteves.

Note to media: The next-of-kin have requested that the bus driver’s name not be used.

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Peter Chan
0401 114 569