Industry struggling with fatigue management

By: Jason Whittaker


The transport industry is struggling to understand fatigue management regulations as the Victorian Government tries to educate stakeholders of their

The transport industry is struggling to understand fatigue management regulations as the Victorian Government tries to educate stakeholders of their responsibilities once the new laws are introduced.

VicRoads in conjunction with the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has just completed a number of fatigue reform information sessions across the State in Ballarat, Horsham, Bendigo, Moonee Valley and Noble Park.

But Deputy VTA Chief Executive Neil Chambers says there are still a number of issues to address in ensuring operators, drivers and clients are prepared for the regulations when they are introduced on September 29.

Chambers says drivers and operators are finding it hard to comprehend the implications of night or long hours and how they are calculated.

Furthermore, he says many are unsure as to whether they will need to apply to be accredited under Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) or if they can get away working under standard hours.

BFM allows a driver to work for 14 hours while stand hours restricts a driver to 12 hours. Under BFM companies must also comply with six standards.

This includes driver scheduling and rostering, making sure a driver is fit for duty, ensuring drivers are aware of fatigue regulations as well as their responsibilities, having in place mechanisms for internal reviews and ensuring records are made and maintained for three years.

"My general impression is that the understanding about the new laws is very low and people are only starting to switch their minds to it now," Chambers says.

During the sessions, Chambers says he has also noted strong opposition from drivers to the laws because of a lack of rest area facilities on major freight routes.

And despite stringent chain of responsibility measures that put the onus on all parties within the supply chain to ensure drivers do not breach fatigue regulations, Chambers says many loading and unloading agents are not aware of their obligations.

Under the regulations, loading managers need to put in place measures that allow drives to rest if there is a queue. They must also inform drivers of when they can load or unload their vehicles.

The lack of understanding about the regulations by concerned parties is leading Chambers to question whether the industry will be ready for the new laws.

"You have got to wonder whether we are getting to everybody who needs to know about this," he says.

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