WorkSafe WA eyes safety issues for commercial vehicle drivers

Fatigue management central to compliance concerns in alternative to blitzes

WorkSafe WA eyes safety issues for commercial vehicle drivers
Chris Kirwin


Western Australia’s work watchdog is embarking on an inspection program examining safety issues for commercial vehicle drivers.

The program will continue until the end of the 2019/20 financial year, and will be conducted at road train assembly areas in metropolitan and regional areas of the state.

The inspection program is being undertaken as an alternative to larger-scale operations such as Operation Austrans.

"The two areas the inspectors will focus on are fatigue management and working in isolated areas," WorkSafe director Chris Kirwin says.

"We think that employers are largely in compliance with WA’s fatigue management laws, but we are still finding companies that are not fully complying with their obligations with regard to fatigue management.

"The inspectors still find problems with record keeping, mandatory medical checks for drivers, appropriate sleeper cabs and driver training.

"Most employers now seem to understand that the laws are there to ensure that commercial vehicle drivers are given sufficient rest to allow them to function efficiently.

"However, it is always worth reminding the industry that the human body has limitations, and adequate sleep and rest are essential to safely undertake long-distance driving."

A WorkSafe WA spokesperson tells ATN fatigue management and vehicle maintenance are covered by its legislation, which is why it was involved with Operation Austrans, which ceased last year.

It is acknowledged that the split in responsibilities means more inspections will theoretically take place.

Read about the dangers that remote area drivers can be exposed to, here

The other area the inspection program will focus on is work in isolated areas, as WA has seen many examples of people losing their lives in remote locations because they have been largely unprepared.

Many factors, including extreme weather conditions, remoteness, vast distances and rarely travelled roads, mean anyone who has a vehicle breakdown or becomes lost may not be found for some time.

As a minimum, WA’s workplace safety laws require isolated employees to be provided with a means of communication and location in case of emergency, and a procedure for regular contact.

"The inspectors will be checking that commercial vehicles drivers who undertake trips to isolated areas are provided with everything they need to keep themselves safe when they are working in isolated areas," Kirwin says.

"Even though compliance with the laws appears to have increased over the years, there is no room for complacency and we plan to continue monitoring the industry on an ongoing basis to ensure compliance levels don’t drop off."

"WorkSafe has an extensive schedule of proactive inspection programs with a primary focus on delivering information to employers, but enforcement action will be taken during the program if breaches of the laws are found.

"These proactive inspection programs aim to help employers comply with workplace safety and health laws, and we firmly believe that raising awareness is the best way in which to lessen the risk of work-related injury and illness."


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