The freight escape: truckmaking and T&L avoid lockdowns

By: Rob McKay

CovidSafe Plan or better needed for most Melbourne firms to continue on-site operations in Stage 4

The freight escape: truckmaking and T&L avoid lockdowns
Paccar began its CovidSafe preparations months ago


Closure of Victoria’s truck-making and parts manufacturing industry made it to state cabinet stage before being added to those escaping the most stringent anti-Covid stage four measures, ATN understands.

A ‘cabinet in confidence’ document circulating early yesterday was the source of initial despondency in the industry, with ‘Heavy truck manufacturing’ on the list for closure for the six weeks set down for stage four.

This turned to confidence late yesterday that it had dodged the bullet following the release of a comprehensive subsequent document detailing the three sets of effects.

They are ‘Closed (for on-site work)’, ‘Open (for on-site work) – Covid Safe Plan’ and ‘Restricted operations or industry specific obligations’.

"Work sites that are in the closed category, can continue to provide access for the purposes of critical maintenance and safety works including meeting environmental obligations, subject to meeting the minimum requirements," the later document states.

"All industries are required to meet Universal Covid Safe Plan obligations for the prevention and management of Covid-19, including development of Covid Safe Plans."

Read how Paccar prepared its operations to be Stage 4 lockdowns, here

In the ‘Manufacturing’ list, ‘Heavy truck manufacturing’ and ‘Transport equipment manufacturing (critical to public transport service; spare parts manufacturing critical to continuity of service) are included in the second set.

For the ‘Transport, Postal and Warehousing’ section, the second list also includes:

  • road transport (passenger and freight)
  • rail transport (passenger and freight) – including rail yards
  • water transport (passenger and freight) – including ports and Tasmanian shipping lines
  • air transport (passenger and freight)
  • pipeline and other transport
  • transport support services
  • vehicle repair, servicing and maintenance
  • towing services

However, ‘Warehousing and cold storage’ is placed on the third section involving risk mitigations, with a High Risk Covid Safe Plan required for continued operation.

Separately, supermarket distribution centres, which are included in ‘Manufacturing’, will "implement a 33 per cent reduction of peak workforce".

Most agriculture services, including animal, animal-health and animal-feed transport and saleyards and knackeries, will need a Covid Safe Plan under the second section, apart from forestry and logging, which is closed for on-site work.

Kenworth and DAF manufacturer Paccar will feel ahead of the game, particularly on the factory floor.

"Fortunately, Heavy Truck Manufacturing is specifically listed on the government’s list of businesses open for on-site work with a Covid-19 plan in place, which we have had in place since April," a Paccar spokesperson tells ATN.

"Our Covid-19 plan keeps workers distanced while they manufacture our trucks and has all the safety and hygiene practices included.

"For office staff, we are all working from home."

Industry will now be looking for devils in the detail of an effort that has never been tried in Australia.

"Warehousing and distribution centres in Melbourne will be limited to no more than two-thirds the normal workforce allowed onsite at any one time," the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) notes. 

"ALC is in continuing discussions with the Victorian Government about how this will operate in practice.

"Workplaces that are continuing to operate will also have additional requirements including extra PPE, staggering shifts, staggering breaks, health declarations and more support for sick workers to ensure they stay home.

"All open businesses and services will have until 11:59pm Friday 7 August to enact a CovidSafe plan. This plan must focus on safety, prevention and response in the event that coronavirus is linked to the workplace."

The state government has indicated it will be making announcements with further details on how restrictions will operate and impact workplaces in the coming days.

The Stage 4 restrictions list can be found here.


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