Economic pressure, multi-tiered subcontracting and occupational health and safety in Australian long-haul trucking.

Mayhew, Claire and Quinlan, Michael (2006) Economic pressure, multi-tiered subcontracting and occupational health and safety in Australian long-haul trucking. Employee Relations, 28 (3) . pp. 212-229. ISSN 0142-5455 [Article] (doi:10.1108/01425450610661216)


Purpose – The purpose of this research is to analyse the relationship between economic pressure, multi-tiered subcontracting and occupational health and safety (OHS) outcomes for employee and owner/drivers in long-haul trucking, using Australian evidence.

Design/methodology/approach – The analysis is based on direct interviews with 300 long-haul drivers, using a structured questionnaire along with an examination of documentary records, statistics and government reports. Qualitative and quantitative data were gathered on self-reported acute and chronic injuries, the incidence of occupational violence, truck crashes, indicators of illicit drug use, hours of work/fatigue and psychological distress.

Findings – Variations between owner/drivers and employees working for small and large firms were investigated. Overall, owner/drivers reported worse OHS than small fleet and, more especially, large fleet drivers. Evidence also indicated a connection between economic pressure, the expansion of contingent work and negative OHS outcomes.

Research limitations/implications – Further longitudinal and comparative research is needed to test the hypothesized link between competitive pressures, supply chain rationalization and OHS outcomes. Research to investigate these issues in other countries is required in order to compare findings with those for Australia and to assess the effectiveness of new enforcement initiatives.

Practical implications – Findings suggest the need for policy interventions aimed at improving OHS to address commercial practices, including elaborate subcontracting chains, more explicitly than is currently the case with road transport regulation. Recent moves in this direction are identified.

Originality/value – Unlike manufacturing, healthcare and the public sector, there have been few studies of the OHS effects associated with contingent work arrangements in transport. In addition to helping to fill this gap the paper provides evidence on the effects of competitive pressure and supply chains on work practices and OHS.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Special Issue: Health and safety at work and its relevance to employment relations research.
Research Areas: A. > Business School
Item ID: 7132
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Ms Jyoti Zade
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2011 10:37
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2016 14:22

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