WA can keep its own fatigue laws: Hancock

Western Australia can continue with its fatigue scheme under national regulations, NHVR Project Director Richard Hancock says

WA can keep its own fatigue laws: Hancock
WA can keep its own fatigue laws: Hancock

By Ruza Zivkusic | November 11, 2011

Western Australia will be free to go its own way on fatigue management laws when national heavy vehicle regulations begin in 2013.

The man leading the team responsible for creating the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), Richard Hancock, says repeated assurances have been made to Western Australia to assuage concerns its scheme will be superseded by the one used in other states.

Fatigue management has been a key sticking point in the move towards harmonised regulations, with the West Australian Government and the state’s trucking lobby refusing to give ground on the issue.

"I’ve been indicating to WA quite frequently that they can continue with their own fatigue management scheme, if that is important to them," Hancock says.

"There is provision already in the heavy vehicle national law for their fatigue management scheme, which is different to the rest of Australia to be recognised under the heavy vehicle national law."

Western Australia is the only jurisdiction not to have signed the intergovernmental agreement on national regulations, but Premier Colin Barnett has given in-principle support. Hancock is still holding out hope the sandgropers will sign the agreement.

He says has met with the state’s road department and industry groups on a number of occasions to speak about fatigue management.

"My sense is that they want to make sure they get to or continue with features of WA heavy vehicle regulation that they like and if they’re confident and comfortable that it can be the case then my sense is that they stand to be part of the national scheme," Hancock says.

"I do understand their circumstance and I do acknowledge that they’ve got this particular circumstance that’s relatively unique to them in Australia and I certainly wouldn’t want them to feel that their safety standards are going backwards."

Unlike other states, Western Australia runs its fatigue scheme under occupational health and safety law. Drivers can work up to 168 hours in 14 days, whereas those in other jurisdictions can work up to 154 hours over the same period if they are accredited in the advanced fatigue management (AFM) module.

Other states also impose strict conditions on night-time driving. The West Australian Government argues that longer hours are necessary due to the long distances drivers must travel.

The Standing Council on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI) last week approved the Bill to create national regulations. It will be sent through Queensland's parliament later this year.

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