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TWU in new call for Cleanaway crash probe reopening

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The management revelations engulfing waste handling and transport firm Cleanaway have put a cloud over its safety culture.

Led by the Australian Financial Review, mainstream media reports focusing on CEO Vik Bansal have elicited an "independent investigation" and a stern public warning from the company’s board on any "unacceptable conduct and an acknowledgement of the "feedback" from Bansal.

The board says it has implemented a range of measures including executive leadership mentoring, enhanced reporting, and monitoring of the CEO’s conduct.

Despite a huge improvement in injury reduction, the conduct so far has reported led to a culture of fear that hindered bad news being passed up the management chain, experienced managers leaving, pressure on truck drivers to perform other duties when vehicles were awaiting maintenance and cost-cutting impinging on upgrades to its fleet of 4,000 waste vehicles and garbage trucks.

The issues have caught the attention of the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU), which reiterates its call for South Australia’s SafeWork SA to reopen its investigation on fatal crash on Adelaide’s South Easter Freeway.

"It is utterly shocking to read the attitude of senior management at Cleanaway to safety, how safety is sidelined and how there is such a high turnover rate of senior health and safety managers," TWU national secretary Michael Kaine tells ATN.

"This case highlights the need for an independent tribunal to be able to investigate threats to safety in trucking.

"There is no agency or organisation in Australia today which can investigate Cleanaway and its supply chain up and down regarding the effects of this toxic culture on safety in the company.

"For a company which collects waste around our neighbourhoods where we live and where our children play, this is an indictment on our system.

"Waste workers have raised concerns about this company for years and the TWU has fought hard to represent their concerns.

"We have had a number of tragic fatalities that Cleanaway has been involved in.

"One of the most horrific trucking incidents on our roads in recent years involved the deaths of Jacqui Byrne and Tom Spiess when they were killed on the South Eastern Freeway crash in SA in 2014 after the brakes on a Cleanaway truck failed.

"The driver had his leg amputated and was charged, with the charges finally dropped. It has since emerged through court proceedings that Cleanaway were informed that the truck’s brakes were faulty and that it should not have been driven.

"To knowingly put drivers and the public at this level of risk is shameful. We have previously called on the police and the SafeWork SA to reopen their investigations into the crash."

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