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An array of new laws for NSW’s food delivery businesses

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The New South Wales (NSW) government is introducing stringent laws for food delivery platforms to ensure the safety of food delivery riders. The announcement comes after several accidents involving delivery riders occurred last year.

Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson, said: “These laws have come in the wake of recent education and safety blitz which found continued widespread non-compliance with the state’s road and work health and safety laws.”

“That’s why we will now introduce the toughest safety requirements for food delivery platforms and riders anywhere in Australia.”

The new safety laws are based on the recommendations made by the Joint Taskforce which was set-up in November last year. The report recommends a slew of operational changes to the existing Work Health and Safety laws. These include:

  • Food delivery platforms to provide riders with personal protective equipment
  • To also provide mandatory induction training
  • Penalise riders for repeated unsafe practices

The new rules – which will become part of the WHS legislation – were prepared in three phases. When making the final report, the Taskforce first looked at current operating models, and then investigated the potential knowledge gaps on WHS guidelines among food delivery platforms, restaurants and riders.

“SafeWork NSW and Transport for NSW representatives collaborated to correlate and review all available incident and crash data relating to food delivery riders,” the report said.

“These recommendations will look to promote compliant behaviours within the sector and further protect riders from death or serious injury.”

What are the recommendations?

The final report by the Taskforce was released on June 5, with ten recommendations. The aim was to explore and identify ways to improve the safety of food delivery riders.

  • SafeWork NSW will monitor industry players for compliance with the WHS legislation. It will ensure awareness and understanding of the WHS guidelines.
  • The transport for NSW will help execute the plan by improving rider visibility, road safety knowledge and infrastructure. 
  • Transport for NSW will also develop guidance on delivery bags for riders to improve visibility.
  • The direction will include that all delivery bags will be made of retro-reflective material. The colour of the bags should be fluorescent in colour.
  • If the bags are not fluorescent, they must have reflective strips in the front, the whole width to the rear and sides.
  • Food delivery platforms will have to ensure that riders only use vehicles that follow regulations and standards.

Rising accidents

According to the NSW’s workplace safety regulator, UberEats reported 71 severe incidents and three deaths in the city involving delivery riders last year. The state also highlighted the risks companies posed to riders working on student visas.

“It was observed that many food delivery riders using motorcycles are on international student visas, and they are not provided with adequate instruction, information and training,” the SafeWork notice said.

No rush deliveries

In February 2021, the Taskforce urged food delivery apps to set delivery time targets based on average speeds and traffic. It urged them to avoid setting unrealistic delivery times while ensuring that the apps used by riders are safe to use on the road.

“Poorly designed apps and unrealistic estimated delivery times create unreasonable time pressures and physical exhaustion, both of which lead to unsafe riding,” the report noted.

It is worth noting that the new measures are beside the existing food delivery rider safety taskforce’s industry action plan. The earlier plan consists of 50 other actions for delivery platforms to improve safety.

The government expects to start consultation on the new rules by September this year and implement them by November 2021.

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Yajush Gupta
Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism. His work has also appeared on BBC Hindi and WION.