Cut the complexity on fatigue, ARTIO tells NSW

As NSW stands firm on truck regulations under OHS reforms, ARTIO has urged the government reduce the industry's burden

By Brad Gardner | November 8, 2010

A leading industrial relations body is urging the Keneally Government to rethink its demand to maintain state-based truck safety regulations under any national workplace scheme.

As reported by ATN, NSW is pushing for extra fatigue management requirements to be included in a national occupational health and safety scheme. All governments are currently working toward creating a single model to end the 10 different systems currently in place.

NSW operators must currently comply with two different sets of fatigue laws under OHS and national regulations introduced in 2008.

"It does lead to a degree of confusion amongst the parties in the chain," NSW ARTIO Secretary Hugh McMaster says of the multiple fatigue management requirements.

"The system should be as simple as possible, as consistent as possible. It means a single set of laws."

Instead of having multiple sets of fatigue management regulations, McMaster says governments should funnel requirements into one model.

He says the fatigue laws introduced in 2008 should form the basis of a regulatory framework for the industry.

McMaster says most operators understand the 2008 laws due to the level of communication and enforcement surrounding them.

"There are smaller companies that would not have an idea of the requirements under OHS law," he says.

Under existing NSW OHS laws, duty holders must prepare trip plans for long haul operations and keep copies of timesheets and proof that drivers have been trained in fatigue management.

NSW operators must manage driver suitability, loading and unloading schedules and implement systems to allow drivers to report hazards and incidents, including mechanical failures.

Regulations introduced in 2008 also require operators to use trip plans and schedules.

Police and Finance Minister Michael Daley is determined to extend the NSW system to other jurisdictions or at least gain an agreement for it to continue within the state.

"We will ask the other states to respect these positions because they are important to NSW," Daley says of the regulations.

"The NSW Government will strongly advocate for the inclusion of work health and safety regulations regarding long distance driver fatigue as part of negotiations around the harmonisation of OHS laws and regulations."

Premier Kristina Keneally has already refused to scrap existing provisions that put the reverse onus of proof on employers and allow unions to prosecute companies for OHS breaches.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) claims the NSW Government’s actions threaten to undermine efforts to create a national system.

ACCI CEO Peter Anderson says the NSW OHS law should be "consigned to the dustbin and replaced by a fairer and workable model".

The group labels reverse onus of proof and the ability of unions to prosecute as "stains on the state justice system".

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