Sun, Oct 13, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Food deliverer killed in crash

COLLISION:A young man delivering food collided with a truck and died, leading to questions about labor laws, insurance and the protection of contract workers

By Chou Min-hung, Chen Ping-hung and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

A scooter rider waits behind a Foodpanda food deliverer at traffic lights at the intersection of Ruiguang Road and Neihu Road in Taipei on Friday.

Photo: Lu Chun-wei, Taipei Times

A 29-year-old man who was delivering food as a part-time job was killed in a head-on collision on Thursday evening while working. It was his third day on the job, police said on Friday.

Ma Chih-hao (馬智浩) was on his delivery scooter when he collided with a truck driven by a 25-year-old man surnamed Tseng (曾) at roughly 11pm on Thursday, police said. The accident occurred along Boai Road in Taoyuan’s Taoyuan District (桃園), they said, adding that Ma was thrown into the air by the collision and his helmet came loose. His head collided with a large flower pot by the side of the road, and he was rendered unconscious. Ma was rushed to the hospital, but was pronounced dead after a failed attempt by doctors to resuscitate him.

Police said the section of Boai Road where the accident occurred has no traffic signals, and they believe Ma and Tseng did not notice each other approaching, as neither had attempted to stop or reduce speed. Initial investigations show that neither vehicle was speeding, and neither motorist was at fault. The investigation continues.

Ma had taken the part-time Foodpanda delivery job at the advice of friends, as he felt it would provide better earning potential than other part-time jobs he had tried. His father said his first two days on the job involved a large number of deliveries and wondered if an excessive workload was to blame for the accident.

In a statement issued yesterday, Foodpanda expressed regret over the accident, adding it will keep in touch with Ma’s family to provide needed assistance.

Meanwhile, Taoyuan’s Department of Labor said it would investigate whether food delivery services — which have grown in popularity recently — are following labor laws and protecting the labor rights of their employees.

Food delivery companies in Taiwan typically do not pay occupational injury benefits, and drivers are required to pay for their own vehicle upkeep and mobile phone costs, the department said.

The risk of injury is exacerbated by drivers who rush to do more deliveries and increase earnings, but as contract workers, they are not eligible for labor insurance, it said.

Department of Employment Relations Director Wang Hou-wei (王厚偉) on Friday said he respected the free-market right of individuals to hire others or engage in contract work, and suggested labor unions as a way for drivers to secure labor insurance. Another option would be for drivers to purchase a commercial insurance option on their own, which delivery companies may offer to pay a portion of for their employees, he said.

The government is in the process of drafting comprehensive guidelines to prevent employers from hiring full-time employees and reporting them as contract employees to avoid giving entitled benefits, Wang said, adding that it expects the guidelines to be announced before the end of the year.

An initial set of guidelines was announced on Oct. 3 that lays out suggestions for delivery companies to implement traffic safety measures for their drivers, as well as measures to prevent heatstroke and other dangers encountered by delivery drivers, Occupational Safety and Health Administration Director-General Tzou Tzu-lien (鄒子廉) said.

Also, on days with typhoons or other inclement weather, companies should halt delivery services, Tzou said. Although not bound by labor regulations covering full-time employees, the companies could still be fined under occupational safety laws if accidents occur, he said.

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