THE National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and the National Road Transport Association have been raising awareness of the dangers that fatigue presents to truck drivers. Between the two, they have published a booklet, commissioned a study and submitted a paper to the National Transport Commission.
NHVR fatigue specialist Andreas Blahous said the booklet would provide simple information for operators seeking access to more flexible work and rest hours.
“Advanced fatigue management (AFM) can be a powerful tool that allows businesses to unlock flexibility in their operations while reducing complexity and improving safety,” Mr Blahous said.
“The flexibility available within AFM gives operators peace of mind through more control over work and rest hours, places a focus on risk management and can result in a significant return on investment. “
Mr Blahous said the booklet provides an introduction to core aspects of AFM, including information about key benefits, requirements and application process.
“There are currently more than 50 AFM-accredited operators across Australia and we want to see those numbers grow through making the process simpler and promoting the benefits,” he said.
An Introduction to Advanced Fatigue Management is available at www.nhvr.gov.au/afm
Research on fatigue monitoring tech
Earlier this month, the NHVR released a paper outlining the benefits of fatigue monitoring technology. This technology has the potential to boost heavy vehicle safety, according to the Review of Fatigue/Distraction Detection Technology interim report.
Mr Blahous said the review found that monitoring technology performed best as part of an integrated fatigue risk management system, rather than as a stand-alone tool.
“Commercial studies suggest that fatigue monitoring technology can help identify and address incidents before they happen,” he said.
“While there is currently limited independent information available on the effectiveness of fatigue monitoring technology, users of this technology in the transport industry tell us that there are practical safety benefits, which warrant further study.”
Submission to NTC
The National Road Transport Association has also been addressing issues around fatigue management. NatRoad recently provided the National Transport Commission with a comprehensive submission proposing re-invention of national fatigue management laws.
NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said his organisation provided the NTC with several case studies prior to the publication of its issues paper on fatigue management.
“Each of those case studies about real member experiences shows the unfairness and absurdity of the current fatigue management laws in the Heavy Vehicle National Law,” he said.
“What other Australian worker expects to receive a fine of $165 for not recording some information in a work diary? No one does. But truck drivers put up with these indignities every day.”
Mr Clark said administrative fines for an error in failing to sign and date a diary page have little to do with controlling the risks of driving while fatigued.
“That is, however, the unfortunate focus of the current HVNL relating to fatigue management. You can be compliant but still fatigued,” he said.
“NatRoad wants to see a system where enforcement under the new HVNL should target the most significant threats and consequences associated with driving fatigued. Enforcement efforts and sanctions should align with these threats and consequences.”