The NSW government has set up a taskforce to investigate the food delivery industry following the deaths of five workers in the past two months.
The investigations, to be led by SafeWork and Transport NSW, will look at whether recent deaths in the state were caused by any “avoidable risks”, the government announced on Tuesday evening.
Minister for Better Regulation Kevin Anderson said the taskforce will also look at any similarities between the deaths and whether tighter safety regulations are needed to better protect riders.
“Every workplace death is a tragedy. Every person who goes to work should come home safely,” Mr Anderson said.
“The taskforce will assess the safety measures currently implemented by each food delivery operator and advise on any improvements needed to prevent further incidents.”
On Monday evening, a truck accident in the Sydney suburb of Redfern saw a food delivery cyclist become the fifth known industry fatality in Australia since late September.
That came just days after Bijoy Paul, a Bangladeshi national, died after reportedly being hit by a car at Rockdale in Sydney’s south.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said food delivery riders are among the road users who are most at risk of harm.
“The deaths of these delivery riders are absolutely tragic and if action needs to be taken, we will do that,” he said.
The Transport Workers’ Union has called on the federal government to investigate online food delivery platforms, warning the “carnage” of rider deaths will likely continue without some regulation of the gig economy.
The union on Tuesday spoke of a lack of training for riders, no personal protective equipment being provided and pressure being put on riders to meet delivery times.
Delivery riders were receiving on average half the minimum wage and were not adequately covered by workplace health and safety rules, it said.
Federal Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter said the issue was largely a state and territory one, but committed to bringing it up at the next meeting of work health and safety ministries.
“Every worker, no matter how their employment arrangements are structured, has the right to a safe working environment and to come home to their families at the end of each day,” he said in a statement.
Prior to the state government’s announcement on Tuesday evening, Uber Eats had not responded to detailed questions from SBS News about the allegations of pressure being put on riders, but did release a statement on the latest delivery rider death.
“In isolation this fatality is devastating. But when considered alongside other recent incidents across the on-demand food delivery sector, it is all the more concerning,” the statement read.
“It is clear that more needs to be done to improve road safety, and we are committed to playing a leading role in achieving this.”
In response to questions, Deliveroo said safety was paramount to the company and that online training models on vehicle safety were mandated for new riders joining the platform.