2020 was always going to be an exciting year of change for NRSPP, with the program moving to a new home. But no one could picture a year like the one we’ve had.

The constant theme throughout 2020, for all of us, was adaptation.

But looking forward, one positive way to view the closing of this year is perhaps that it has presented us with an opportunity for change. A year where organisations, businesses, government and communities were all forced to create better transport habits for a better future.

Reconsidering travel and Work Trips

One of the key ways to reduce workplace road safety risk is to reduce exposure. But have we ever really asked ourselves:

• Can the meeting be accomplished without travel?

• Can the journey be avoided through technological contact facilities?

• Does the solution offer the best safety outcomes?

• Is the choice effective, affordable and sustainable?

The new COVID-19 world has demonstrated that we don’t need to travel as much. And, in a lot of cases, that car, bus, train or plane journey can be replaced with a virtual alternative, reducing risk.

Consider how that time spent travelling has suddenly become far more productive, whether in work output or in more personal time. Being locked down empowered organisations to become nimble and move online. COVID-19 adaptation has demonstrated work time can be flexible and productive.

Many organisations have begun to decentralise to adapt to the new normal, providing real flexibility where workers can work from home and the office. Ironically, COVID-19 may have provided us the biggest productivity increase in a century.

We have also re-discovered the value of time lost to the commute in our ‘old’ world. Those simple low-cost mobility options of cycling and walking have become the norm. Just look at the record sales of bicycles. For some, we became reacquainted with our own neighbourhoods by exploring streets, parks and creeks and during periods of social distancing, people built alternative communities.

Challenging times bring possibility

It has been tough, and often exhausting. For some sectors, there has been little work and, where possible, Australians have rallied around them. Some organisations have got lost in the pandemic, focusing on just the COVID-19 risk to the detriment of all other risks to their mobile workforce. In some cases, doubling or tripling movements of workers in separate vehicles to keep workers safe from COVID-19 has unwittingly increased exposure, without considering fatigue.

However, as was constant in 2020, after a while adaptation came along and through discussion better systems emerged. So, moving forward, as a good friend explained to me:

“Do not let the disaster that is 2020 go to waste. Seize on it and use it to embed the systems, approaches and people you need to build the culture you want for the future. Use it to create a positive change and get rid of what is not working.”

So, as your workers head off for a well-deserved break, let them know ‘a job well done’. Ask them to take care on the roads and avoid being impatient or aggressive, to be mindful, and to come back to the new year in one piece.

Looking to 2021 and taking something positive from 2020, keep the habits we want and strive to improve workplace road safety. Then, in years to come, we might look back on 2020 as one that forced positive change amid all the challenges, as there is nothing like 2020 hindsight.

– Jerome Carslake, Director of the NRSPP


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