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WA transport company fine an important fatigue management lesson

A WA freight company’s fine shows the unique importance of managing safety technology onboard trucks

The Western Australian department of mines, industry regulation and safety says a Perth freight transport company has been fined $40,000 (and ordered to pay $18,996.30 in costs) after the court decided it failed to provide a safe workplace for employees.

The incident is a unique example of why fatigue management with truck drivers is so important to make the industry safer for all involved.

Centurion Transport pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe work environment for persons engaged by its contractors and was fined in the Perth Magistrates Court.

The punishment comes after a truck crash and fire occurred with two trucks contracted from State Haul by Centurion.

The truck involved had been fitted with a “Guardian” system as part of Centurion’s fatigue management. The system is designed to detect fatigue events in which a driver’s eyes are closed for more than 1.5 seconds or the driver is distracted.

At an earlier trial in the District Court, it was found that previous records showed the driver had intentionally moved the in-cab camera so it was misaligned and no longer working effectively.

Between September 2 and October 26, 2017, 468 field-of-view exceptions were logged for the truck involved, with 465 of these “camera misalignment” events.

WorkSafe Commissioner Darren Kavanagh says the case was a tragic reminder of the importance of having a fatigue management system and using it properly.

“Centurion Transport had adopted the Guardian system for its entire fleet, as well as paying for the system to be installed in all of its contractors’ vehicles, which should have been a major investment in and feature of the company’s fatigue management system,” Kavanagh says.

“But despite the fact that the system logged a large number of camera misalignment events in this truck, the company took no action. Centurion put the system in place but then neglected to use it properly.

“The company should have recognised sooner that the driver may have been moving the in-cab camera on a regular basis, and that might have been achieved if some cross-checking of data was performed.

“The fatigue management laws are there to ensure commercial vehicle drivers are given sufficient rest to allow them to function efficiently. The human body has limitations, and adequate sleep and rest are essential to safely undertake long-distance driving.”

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