Parcel delivery service CouriersPlease launches driver safety program

CEO drives home importance of employee safety

Parcel delivery service CouriersPlease launches driver safety program

The safety of Australia’s delivery drivers has been under the spotlight after the vast expansion of businesses like UberEats, Menulog and Deliveroo. Thanks to the pandemic, the desire for fast, on demand delivery services, whether it’s fast food or online shopping, has skyrocketed. But in a sector with minimal labour law regulation and booming demand, who pays the price?

Over the past year, the Transport Workers Union has regularly called for the government to step in and regulate the gig economy. It’s not just about whether those working for companies like Uber are employees or independent contractors, but about improving the safety of all drivers, riders, and couriers. Between September and December last year, five food delivery workers were killed in separate incidents on the roads while working, prompting calls for emergency regulation to make the industry safer.

HRD spoke to Mark McGinley, CEO of CouriersPlease, a parcel delivery service that has experienced rapid growth in the last 12 months due to the pandemic-induced “click frenzy”. Last year, the business saw a 50% increase in the franchise network and now has more than 1,200 franchisees and delivery partners.

Despite the sudden spike in demand for delivery services, McGinley said the health and safety of franchisees and drivers has always been the most pressing issue. As well as enforcing high levels of cleanliness and compliance to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak, McGinley said they ensured drivers were not putting themselves at risk because of the demand in deliveries.

Read more: How to create a COVID-19 safety recovery plan for your workplace

“Safety is the number one priority for us as an industry and certainly for CouriersPlease as a business,” he said. “There's no parcel more important than anyone's life. We don't have time limits on drivers to deliver X amount of parcels per hour and we carry out regular spot checks on the vehicles to make sure they're road compliant, those are all the basics of the industry.

“But more than that, for the franchisees and drivers we want to make sure that good driver safety practices feel like second nature to them.”

CouriersPlease rolled out a ‘Get Home Safe’ driver safety program that educated drivers around spotting signs of fatigue, scheduling breaks into their shifts and the dangers of multitasking while on the road. It started as an online training module for franchisees, before the key tips and reminders were delivered directly to the driver’s scanning devices.

Read more: Experts predict ‘tougher’ COVID-19 safety rules

Education is a vital first step, but McGinley acknowledged it must also go hand-in-hand with a healthy working environment, free from unachievable targets or time pressures. CouriersPlease implements a safety-net measure, which is unique in the franchise industry, that means franchisees cannot fall below a certain amount of revenue. Last year, the company also brought in Covid leave which financially supported workers to stay home if they had symptoms, significantly reducing the likelihood of an outbreak.

As an essential service, CouriersPlease was able to continue operating throughout the lockdowns thanks to the stringent safety measures in place like contact-free deliveries, high-grade sanitation at depots and private testing whenever a potential link to a positive case did occur. In a time of unprecedented growth, McGinley said juggling driver safety with the skyrocketing demand was a major challenge. But like most businesses, embracing the rapid advances in technology and moving towards greater sustainability targets has set the business up for success.

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