Mutual recognition to resolve fatigue impasse

National Heavy Vehicle Regulator will consider a mutual recognition policy if WA insists on retaining its own fatigue management scheme

By Brad Gardner | May 4, 2011

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator will look at imposing a mutual recognition policy if Western Australia insists on retaining its own fatigue management scheme.

Under one option currently being considered before the introduction of national trucking laws in 2013, Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia will recognise Western Australia’s fatigue management model and vice versa.

Separate from other states, Western Australia operates its own system under occupational health and safety law and permits drivers greater flexibility due to the sparse distances they must cover.

"There’s going to be some need for mutual recognition because there are certain things that I don’t believe we can effectively change between now and January 2013," the regulator’s Project Director Richard Hancock says.

"If Western Australia keeps its occupational health and safety approach to fatigue, for example, then we will need to have a way that when you cross the border into WA you don’t have to change from one fatigue process to another."

Hancock says the regulator will need to ensure any mutual recognition policy is practical for truck drivers working across state boundaries.

West Australian Transport Minister Troy Buswell says uniform regulations will only be considered if they are in the state’s best interests.

Buswell, like West Australian trucking operators, is standing firm that the state must retain its existing fatigue management scheme.

As the regulatory impact statement on national trucking laws points out, drivers can work a maximum of 154 hours in 14 days if they are accredited in the advanced fatigue management (AFM) module used in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

Conversely, the West Australian model permits drivers to work up to 168 hours in 14 days.

Hancock says national regulations cannot be a one-size-fits-all model.

"It just simply won’t work if we aren’t prepared to be flexible and recognise the various parts of Australia have specific requirements," he says.

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