Last week, Santos kindly hosted the Fifth NRSPP Utilities Forum in Brisbane.

The Utilities Forum provides a unique opportunity for those organisations that attend to deep dive their workplace road safety risks with industry peers and share ideas on how these risks are being addressed. As part of the forum, attending partners complete a benchmarking template which facilitates and provides direction for the discussion.

Each forum builds upon the feedback from each of the previous years and this year was a standout session.

Behind the NRSPP Forum this year was a great team effort, we would like to acknowledge:

  • Tim Roberts, the engaging facilitator for the day.
  • Dr Lucia Kelleher, Busy Brain presenter and data analyst extraordinaire
  • Andrew Leibie, passionate leading market toxicologist
  • Dr Darren Wishart the smiling challenger on driver behaviour and the basics of telematics.
  • All of the partners who attended and Santos for kindly hosting this year.

The Pre-Forum Activities

As an ice breaker, the Utilities Forum joined with Safer Together Land Transport Incident Review Panel which had the theme Driver Distraction. What took place was a range of industry partners openly shared incidents which occurred as a result of driver distraction and fatigue and the mitigations they are exploring and implementing to promote improvement and prevention.

These were powerful examples. What emerged was fatigue and distraction can occur anytime, and contrary to perceptions of fatigue precursors, does not require a long trip. Complacency can certainly play a role.

Following the panel, David Bobbermen from Austroads led a discussion on the Seven Disruptions to Transport and Mobility. David took the role of an energetic futurist to help challenge the partners into what may be just over the horizon, and how it may impact their worker operations when on the road.

A regular highlight for the Utilities Forum is the networking dinner. This year partners were treated to an amazing food and a presentation from Lucia delving into Busy Brain Syndrome the root cause of distraction.  If you have not heard of it check out Lucia’s webinar on the topic. Put simply, the brain can only do so much, overload it and humans miss the obvious. For example, that phone or keys that suddenly materialises even though you looked there numerous times…

The Forum

This year 19 partners engaged in the forum from the electrical, gas, telecommunications and water sectors with EcoLab and Nestle also joining for the second year running. The Australian Automobile Association also attended to help practically inform their forthcoming Road Safety Research Fund workshop.

The approach this year was not a linear approach but rather completely fluid for the first half.  The approach was focused entirely on creating discussion among the partners. Getting them to share and compare. The benchmarking data was used to stimulate the discussion and explore differences between partners. The approach was very much along the lines of SBS Insight.

As an example, one organisation illustrated how their culture has evolved to be centred around health and body focus. As a result near miss reporting now captures micro-sleeps which the workers have really embraced as they came to understand the shift in cultural leadership was not tokenism, but recognising work and home is life, and that the two are linked. Sharing micro-sleeps stories illustrated how many of these don’t just occur on long trips, but can be within 20 minutes of the start of a journey. So to understand the why with these incidents, the causal factors go beyond just the job, and includes what is happening at home, diet, stress, etc.

The Utilities Forum partners are all characterised by complex and diverse fleets and the forum provides an opportunity to identify common transport risks and how they may be mitigated.

Following lunch, Andrew Liebie led an in-depth discussion into AOD, how organisations are approaching the issues, and correlations with the broader population and emerging trends. So many different approaches, questions, considerations and testing systems were shared.

Finally, Darren Wishart engaged the partners on telematics, how the system is used, what is the science behind the thresholds and measures put in place.

A powerful highlight in both Andrew and Darren’s session was, if you’re not doing it right, the risk is not being managed and it’s a waste of money.

What’s next?

A summary report will be produced the forum, three partners have nominated to host the forum next year which is a testimony to its success. For NRSPP this is always one of the highlights of the program and illustrates our purpose in convening partners to work collaboratively and share the responsibility of road safety. Thank you to everyone who helped.

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