Originally launched in the mid-1980s, Nationwide emerged as Australia’s largest provider of roadside assistance and transport solutions.
Operating across five states, Nationwide consistently innovate, exploring ways to revolutionise safety and maintain the reliable provision of a vital service.
The towing and transport industry is hazardous; drivers attend high-speed environments, load and unload, operate heavy machinery and face the public at some of their worst moments. Nationwide recognise that safety cannot be solely policy, it has to transcend into a culture that relies on the commitment of many teams and leaders.
Through a continuous improvement process, Nationwide’s Health and Safety team discovered an unidentified risk with the brake system of 4T and 6T tilt-tray tow-trucks, their most used vehicle.
When a parking brake is applied when a truck is stationary, loading a vehicle may slightly tip the truck’s rear wheels, especially if the load is heavy or parked on an incline. Although inconspicuous, the tipping could disable the parking brake and cause the truck to roll, totally unrestrained.
While the risk of a truck rolling was low, the business promptly recognised the potential for harm was far too high; and the damage that an unrestrained truck could cause would be dire, jeopardising both the wellbeing of a driver and the greater public.
Recognising the potential for harm, Nationwide Safety teams deployed safety alerts and began engaging with the Fleet department to investigate technology across the wider industry that could resolve the issue.
After extensive research, the team finalised a design for a brake pedal depressor. A manual design adapted for simplicity, Nationwide’s innovation works by depressing the brake pedal when stationary to ensure all four wheels are locked, rather than the rear wheels alone – eradicating the threat of rolling.
To swiftly familiarise drivers with the new equipment, driver trainers provided inductions and developed easily accessed step-by-step procedures, including an instructional video detailing the circumstances where the depressor must be deployed.
To complete the introduction of the depressor, Safety and Quality feedback systems began to monitor use of the device. Incident investigations now assess if the depressor could have influenced an outcome. Load management processes were also updated to reflect changes in Safe Work Procedures, while the use of the device was communicated to the broader business to draw attention to both the risk and solution.
The brake-pedal depressor is sheer risk-elimination – as such, it’s difficult to accurately identify whether it has resulted in reduced incidents of unrestrained rolling. However, Nationwide view the conception as a success. Having drawn attention to a serious risk while formulating a concise solution, Nationwide have likely prevented future incident and have more broadly enriched a safety culture.
With the plight for a zero-harm environment, this initiative underpins a desire to build awareness of hidden risks for both drivers and the wider transport community – ultimately serving to set a new standard within the industry.