Food delivery giants facing regulatory overhaul in NSW

Food delivery giants including Menulog and Deliveroo have committed to 50 new safety measures ahead of the release of a report into the industry that will recommend regulatory changes by the NSW government to reduce worker deaths.

NSW Better Regulation Minister Kevin Anderson on Wednesday revealed the report, sparked by multiples deaths of riders on Sydney’s roads, would contain recommendations for regulatory updates when it is released in coming weeks.

Food delivery companies have also committed to new safety actions under a separate plan prepared with the NSW government. The new plan is slated to be released on Thursday, and outlines 50 new safety actions for companies to adhere to, which include updates to apps, the translation of safety instructions to riders and changes to uniforms.

A spate of deaths in the food delivery industry in late 2020 prompted the government to establish the taskforce to address safety standards.

The commitments are varied between companies, with Domino’s Pizza committing to using virtual reality and “gamification” to improve driver and scooter rider safety, while Deliveroo plans to pilot 500 personal safety alarms for its Australian riders.

However many of the commitments made, including a helmet-detection feature built into the UberEats app or HungryPanda’s investigation into “the impact of extreme weather, incentives and time pressure on safety” were already under way before the plan was published. While Mr Anderson welcomed the commitments to improving safety standards, he said the most substantive changes would come from the impending taskforce report.

“While I congratulate the sector on developing its own plan, the biggest changes are set to come through the Gig Economy Taskforce’s report which will provide recommendations for regulatory change to government,” Mr Anderson said.

There were 74 “serious notifiable injuries” to UberEats riders during most of 2020, according to SafeWork NSW documents tabled to NSW Parliament, the Herald revealed on Monday. UberEats general manager Matthew Denman told a parliamentary inquiry that the rate of injury had not changed, and agreed that dozens more riders had likely been injured since the reporting period.

“I don’t think there’s been any material change in the rate,” he said during an inquiry where he confirmed eight UberEats riders had been killed since the company launched in Australia. “The unfortunate reality is that road safety continues to be a challenge not just for UberEats … but for the whole community.”

Opposition gig economy spokesman Daniel Mookhey said the new guidelines for major food delivery companies to follow were “feeble”.

“How many people have to be maimed, injured or killed delivering food before the government acts?” he said.

Transport Workers Union secretary Michael Kaine said delivery riders had been let down by the taskforce.

“What was seen as a ray of hope following the tragic deaths of five riders in just two months has proven to be a stunt to advance company propaganda and detract from the critical need for regulatory reform that would save lives,” he said. “Food delivery riders who know better than anyone the deadly pressures they’re under were continuously silenced on low pay and exploitation and told in no uncertain terms that anything requiring regulatory change was beyond scope.”

Other features of the industry action plan include Doordash investigating whether it should provide riders with free phone cradles for their bikes and redesigning their bags. HungryPanda agreed to investigate the cost of providing riders with helmets and jackets.

SafeWork NSW will monitor whether the operators are adhering to the commitments, issuing quarterly reports.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

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