WorkSafe WA highlights fatigue concerns

Operation Austrans reveals 'lingering concerrns' over fatigue rule compliance in the state

By Rob McKay | June 12, 2012

Despite Western Australia’s liberal truck-driver fatigue regulations, shortfalls continue to concern WorkSafe WA following last month’s Operation Austrans.

WorkSafe says it joined police and Main Roads during last month’s annual heavy vehicle safety initiative.

The organisation stopped 126 commercial vehicles, with 33 transport companies now undergoing follow-up inspections and 18 notices issued in the course of the inspections.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch says that despite "a reasonable level" fatigue rule compliance, there were "some lingering concerns in some areas".

"Fatigue is still a significant occupational safety and health issue in the commercial transport industry and it’s pleasing to see that transport companies are largely in compliance with the major aspects of WA’s fatigue regulations," McCulloch says.

"However, the recent Austrans operations did show that there is still room for improvement because inspectors found some continuing problems with mandatory rest breaks, the maintenance of fatigue management plans, record keeping and mandatory medical checks for drivers.

"We’ve seen a steady increase in understanding of the fatigue laws since we began participating in roadblocks seven years ago, and it seems that the industry has generally come to grips with the fact that the laws are there to ensure commercial vehicle drivers are given sufficient rest.

"Although we’re pleased that the industry appears to be consistently complying, it is worth reminding the industry that the human body has limitations and adequate sleep and rest is essential to safely undertake long-distance driving."

McCulloch points out that most of the drivers involved were travelling within the state, "so it is also timely to remind the transport industry that drivers operating on shorter routes than interstate runs must also comply with the fatigue management laws".

He reminds transport firms that the state’s fatigue management code of practice should be readily available in all their workplaces.

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