Queensland legislation gives EWDs the green light

By: Brad Gardner


Queensland passes legislation that will allow truck operators and drivers to use electronic work diaries.

Queensland legislation gives EWDs the green light
Queensland transport minister Jackie Trad says the trucking industry can choose to use electronic or paper work diaries.

 

Moves to introduce electronic work diaries (EWD) throughout most of Australia have cleared the first stage, with Queensland’s parliament passing legislation to permit the use of the devices.

The Heavy Vehicle National Law Amendment Bill passed with cross-party support to give the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) the power to approve the use of electronic diaries.

A similar Bill will now be introduced in jurisdictions that recognise the NHVR – New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory – to ensure EWDs can operate there.

The legislation gives the trucking industry the choice to use EWDs or stick with paper-based logbooks to monitor compliance with fatigue management law.

"This is a significant step forward in the use of technology as a means of improving the regulation and, in turn, the safety of the heavy vehicle industry," Queensland transport and infrastructure minister Jackie Trad says.

"I must stress that the adoption of electronic work diaries is voluntary.

"It provides operators in the industry with a choice to either adopt this emerging technology or continue, as they currently do, with the paper-based system."

Trad says EWDs give the trucking industry flexibility to choose the option best suited to their needs.

Policy makers have slotted in a tolerance for drivers using the highly accurate EWDs to ensure trivial fatigue management breaches do not attract fines.

"The Bill makes an allowance for small breaches of work requirements totaling not more than eight minutes in a 24-hour period not to incur a penalty," Trad says.

"This will ensure that drivers using electronic work diaries are treated fairly with respect to minor breaches that would not otherwise be apparent in a written work diary because of the way time is rounded."

EWDs count work and rest time in one minute intervals.

Those using paper diaries need to count in 15-minute intervals and round up for work time but round down for rest time.

It means if a driver using a paper diary is required to take a 15-minute break but only rests for 14 minutes, that break does not count.

The Bill also introduces new penalties mainly related to EWD breaches and makes minor technical adjustments to the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has welcomed the Bill’s passage and says the use of EWDS to record work and rest time will help trucking operators ensure their drivers are complying with fatigue management law.

"I thank the Queensland Government and Parliament for processing this important reform so it can form part of the Heavy Vehicle National Law," ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff says.

 

Fatigue strategy

Electronic work diaries (EWD) have the potential to deliver significant safety improvements for the trucking indsutry and reduce the paperwork burden on drivers and operators, according to the Queensland Government.

"Electronic work diaries present a real opportunity to improve safety within the heavy vehicle industry by providing drivers and operators with real-time information that can be used to more effectively manage driver fatigue," Trad says.

"Drivers will benefit from a system that will alert them when a required rest break is approaching. It will also be of particular benefit to the many drivers who struggle with the complex requirements of recording and calculating their work and rest times in a written work diary."

"Employers will also benefit from no longer being required to keep onerous paper based record-keeping systems for each of their drivers. Instead, electronic records can be kept and produced if and when required," she says.

Queensland is the first jurisdiction to introduce legislation permitting the use of EWDs. Other jurisdictions that recognise the NHVR – New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory – will soon follow Queensland’s lead to ensure cross-border consistency.

While championing the benefits of EWDs, Trad has also sought to dispel potential industry concerns about the technology.

"I know that there are also concerns among some in the industry about the potential for ‘big brother’ type of monitoring of their operations to occur with electronic work diaries. I would like to take this opportunity to again assure the industry that this is not the intention," she says.

The introduction of EWDs will coincide with hefty financial penalties for those who misuse information collected.

"It establishes significant offences for anyone found to be inappropriately using information collected by electronic work diaries for any purpose other than fatigue related compliance function under the law without a warrant," Trad says.

"The maximum penalties for electronic work diary protected information offences are $20,000."

A pilot study of EWDs found the devices would cost $1,200 each, $500 to install and then ongoing costs of $20 per month per unit.

The peak industry group, the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), supports EWDs but has raised concerns the devices could lead to drivers being fined for minor fatigue management breaches.

 

 

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