ALTA unhappy over stalled fatigue review

Trucking group puts pressure on the NTC to deliver the long-awaited fatigue management review

By Brad Gardner | August 2, 2010

The trucking industry is putting pressure on the National Transport Commission to deliver on its promised fatigue management review.

The NTC in April last year agreed to review basic fatigue management (BFM) guidelines to improve the scheme and involve the industry by releasing a discussion paper.

NTC Chairman Greg Martin in February this year announced the paper would be "released shortly", but since then it has been forgotten about.

The Australian Livestock Transporters Association (ALTA) has demanded an explanation on the delay, but has so far been kept in the dark on the issue.

"ALTA has not yet received any information from the NTC about when the BFM Review will be released," ALTA Executive Director Philip Halton wrote last week to his members in a newsletter.

"Even worse, an NTC officer recently told us that their staff are ‘too busy with the National Regulator’ to complete this work," the newsletter goes on to say.

The NTC has declined to comment on the issue, today saying it will be addressing the ALTA directly on the matters raised by it in the newsletter.

The former NSW roads minister, Michael Daley, in 2009 requested the NTC to look at work and rest periods under the BFM module which limits drivers to 14-hour workdays and prescribed rest breaks.

Daley at the time stated governments needed to do more to encourage the industry to gain BFM accreditation.

"Some trucking companies may have lost flexibility under the scheme, and this might encourage them to stick with the traditional approach of relying on a driver filling in a record of how much driving he has done," Daley said at the time.

The NTC was asked to look at striking a balance between safety and ensuring operators can comply with their obligations under fatigue management.

The ALTA is looking for changes to restrictions on driving hours and night rests to help country operators and for the work diary and counting provisions to be simplified.

Halton has also criticised the NTC for failing to respond to an industry delegation that called for cross-border fatigue management inconsistencies to be addressed.

The delegation met the NTC on June 4 after a truck driver was caught breaching fatigue provisions in Victoria despite being compliant in NSW and Queensland.

To highlight the time taken by the NTC to deliver on its proposal for fatigue management reform, the ALTA last week began its NTC work diary to keep track of the days taken since it announced it would review BFM.

The diary also tracks the number of days passed since Martin announced the review would be "released shortly" and the days passed since the NTC committed to working on cross-border counting inconsistencies.

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