NHVR prepares to contact AFM-accredited operators

By: Brad Gardner

Establishment of fatigue panel means regulator can now inform operators if their AFM accreditation needs to be reviewed.

NHVR prepares to contact AFM-accredited operators
National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) CEO Sal Petroccitto.


Transport operators with advanced fatigue management (AFM) accreditation will soon learn if they need to appear before a panel of fatigue experts to have their accreditation reviewed.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is planning to contact AFM-accredited operators now that it has appointed its fatigue expert reference group (FERG), which is tasked with reviewing AFM applications and existing accreditations considered to be risky.

The NHVR conducts the risk assessment to determine if applicants need to be referred to the FERG. The panel gives its advice to the NHVR, which then decides whether to grant AFM accreditation. 

"Now that FERG has been established, the NHVR will be progressively contacting the existing AFM operators to advise them if their accreditation needs to be referred to FERG, how that process will work and to invite them to meet with FERG in person if they wish," NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto told says.

He says the risk assessment process gives the NHVR clarity about which applications it can approve without seeking the panel’s advice.

"Triggering a referral to FERG is not an indication that there is necessarily a problem with the application, it [is] just part of the diligent and careful process the NHVR follows," Petroccitto says.

Those with an existing AFM accreditation will still need to provide their accreditation to the NHVR by December 31, 2015 even if the FERG is not required to review it.

The Heavy Vehicle National Law requires that all trucking companies obtain AFM accreditation from the NHVR.

The process is designed to ensure businesses with existing AFM accreditation and new applicants are all operating under the one system.

"It has the benefit of bringing all operators into a completely consistent national framework, which is the same framework that all new and future AFM operators will be working under," Petroccitto says.

The FERG is largely made up of noted sleep and fatigue academics.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) wants an industry representative added to the panel.

When asked if the NHVR intended to appoint an industry representative, Petroccitto responded: "The best industry representative an operator can have in front of FERG is themselves."

He says the panel has indicated it would welcome an operator to attend its meetings and that the meetings will be held at multiple locations across Australia.

Petroccitto says the NHVR wrote to major industry associations last year asking them to nominate individuals they considered suitable for appointment to the fatigue panel.

"Every suggestion received was assessed very carefully," he says.

The establishment of the expert panel is one of a number of changes made to AFM since the NHVR took control of the scheme.

Templates have now been developed to save trucking operators from having to build their own applications from scratch.

Prior to the introduction of the Heavy Vehicle National Law, Petroccitto says businesses wanting to secure AFM accreditation needed to hire a fatigue expert at a substantial cost to look over their application before lodging it with the relevant authorities.

"AFM will soon require transport operators to manage their drivers in a highly professional manner, but the upfront costs are now expected to be significantly less than previously required," he says.

"Interest from transport operators seeking to join AFM using the new arrangements has been very high and the NHVR is greatly encouraged by the level of interest." 

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