Food delivery rider injuries down by 70%, latest NSW government data shows

There were only six food delivery rider injuries reported in NSW between April and June 2021, compared to 25 during the same period last year.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

The latest data released by the NSW government shows the amount of reported food delivery rider injuries between April and June 2021 were down 70%.

On a year-on-year comparison, there were six reported rider injuries during the quarter, compared to 25 last year.

The NSW government has pinned the significant reduction on the work it has been doing to improve safety standards for gig economy platforms and riders.

"Despite more and more riders being on the road, it's reassuring to see that injury and fatality rates have reduced significantly since last year," Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said.

"Over the past six months we've worked tirelessly with the industry and with riders to highlight the need for increased safety in the sector, and although it's still early days, our efforts are starting to make a difference."

In June, the state government said it would introduce a set of new laws that aim to better protect the safety of gig economy and food delivery workers, while also cracking down on unsafe practices by riders.

Some of the new measures would include ensuring food delivery platforms provide riders with personal protective equipment and implement compulsory induction training, as well as introducing a new penalty system for non-compliant riders who are found to not be wearing safe, high-visibility clothing, breaking road rules when riding, or using vehicles that are not roadworthy.

These new changes would be implemented as part of amendments to the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017.

Consultation on the new regulations will start next month with the laws expected to be finalised by 1 November 2021.

The changes are part of the 10 recommendations that the Joint Taskforce into Food Delivery Rider Safety put forward.

The taskforce was set up at the end of last year to investigate whether improvements need to be made to enhance the safety of gig economy workers. It was prompted after a series of fatalities that involved food delivery riders occurred over a three-month period.

Despite an improvement in injury numbers, a safety audit released by the NSW Point to Point Transport Commissioner earlier this month found that Uber failed to report more than 500 serious incidents involving drivers and riders to the regulator over an 18-month period.

The audit flagged while the rideshare giant had systems in place, 37% of its drivers had more than 12 hours of continuous driving time with some cases up to 17 hours of continuous driving.

At the same time, over a six-month period, more than 50 drivers were identified as having had multiple complaints of driver distraction, such as mobile phone use and drowsy driving.

Uber also does not monitor whether online training it provides for drivers is undertaken properly, the audit found.

The rideshare company has been issued 13 improvement notices and fined over AU$200,000 as a result of the audit findings.

"Given its size and scope, Uber has implemented sophisticated systems to manage safety on its platform, however, Uber needs to make sure that this technology is doing what it is meant to do at all times," commissioner Anthony Wing said.

"In addition, Uber needs to make sure that its various systems are working effectively with each other to ensure the overall safety of its services. I look forward to seeing Uber make improvements to these safety systems."

An Uber spokesperson told ZDNet the company is committed to resolving the matters identified by the independent regulator. 

"Safety is our number one priority and we are committed to ensuring we have robust policies, processes and cutting edge features built into our technology to support the safety of everyone who uses our app. This includes working with safety experts and rideshare regulators across Australia to raise the bar across the industry," the spokesperson said.

"We are continually looking for ways to improve safety and have worked openly and collaboratively with the Point to Point Transport Commission throughout the recent Audit process. In addition, we are raising the bar through proactively identifying and self-reporting notifiable occurrences through internal reviews.

"Uber will continue to keep listening, learning and improving to provide the best and safest rideshare service to the people of NSW." 

Updated at 3:02pm AEST, 31 August 2021: Uber comments added.

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