ATA seeks electronic work diary tolerances review

Call contained in submission to committee on HVNL amendment legislation

ATA seeks electronic work diary tolerances review
Not all work diaries are equal.


The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has called for time tolerances used in planned electronic work diaries (EWD) to be reviewed after two years.

The review is one of the recommendations in the ATA’s submission to the Queensland Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Committee inquiry into the Heavy Vehicle National Law Amendment Bill 2015.

Though backing the Bill, ATA CEO Christopher Melham believes how small breaches of the work and rest rules would be treated has not been properly considered.

"At present, the Heavy Vehicle National Law requires drivers of fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles to fill out written work diaries to record their work and rest hours," Melham says.

"The time periods in these written work diaries are required to be rounded to the nearest 15 minutes, and are hand-written by the driver.

"The electronic diaries that would be approved under this Bill would replace the need for written work diaries, potentially offering a considerable reduction in the red tape burden faced by operators and drivers.

These systems would automatically round to the nearest one minute interval, with a maximum work time tolerance of eight minutes in a 24-hour period.

"There would be no tolerance for errors in rest times."

The ATA believes these differences will create a two-tiered regulatory system, with EWD users facing a significantly tighter regulatory regime than those using written work diaries.

"As a result, we expect that many operators and drivers would decide to continue using the written diaries, despite potential red tape savings," Melham says.

"Ideally, the Bill and the Heavy Vehicle (Fatigue Management) National Regulation should be amended immediately to address the industry’s concerns.

"Alternatively, the NTC’s recommended two-year review of the tolerances should be locked in to the NTC work program and NHVR corporate plans now."

The submission uses a real-world work example to demonstrate the differences in the diary systems, the ATA says.

 In this example, a driver takes an early rest break to have a nap, but rests for 29 minutes, rather than 30 minutes.

This minor error would disappear in a written work diary, as the driver would inevitably round the break up to half an hour. However, an EWD would record every minute of discrepancy. The driver would be exposed to a maximum penalty of $4,100 unless an extra 15 minute work break was taken.

The submission also reiterates the ATA’s call for electronic work diary use to be on a voluntary basis only.

"Although EWDs could offer great advantages for some businesses, installing them would be an unnecessary cost for small operators or those who don’t currently fall under work diary requirements," Melham says.

"In the ATA’s view, the only situation where EWDs should be mandatory is where a court orders an operator to install them after convicting the operator of an offence."

Since Queensland transport minister Jackie Trad introduced the amendment Bill on May 19, the committee has received one other submission, from the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ).

The LGAQ notes the HVNL’s additional unfunded obligations and therefore cost on councils to such as road access permit processing, route assessments and record keeping.

It reiterates its call for the ending of duplication through centralisation of daily work diary sheet data throught the use of "equivalent records".

The amendment Bill aims to:

  • change the EWD provisions to enable the effective implementation of an approval and monitoring regime that will support the use of EWDs by the heavy vehicle industry  
  • revise a number of penalty provisions to ensure consistency and equity in penalty amounts for offences contained in the HVNL
  • reduce the administrative or regulatory burden for the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and/or the heavy vehicle industry
  • clarify existing requirements to aid interpretation of the HVNL
  • improve the enforceability of the HVNL
  • address technical drafting issues.

The submissions can be found here.


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