New fatigue scheme allows truck drivers to work 11 days straight

By: Brad Gardner

Livestock transport industry gets flexible fatigue management template that allows 14-hour workdays.

New fatigue scheme allows truck drivers to work 11 days straight
Trucking operators using the new fatigue management template will be able to schedule up to 11 consecutive 14-hour workdays.


Truck drivers hauling livestock will be able to work up to 11 days straight under a new fatigue management scheme to be introduced next month.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) says the scheme, developed in consultation with industry, will take effect on July 1 to give the livestock transport sector greater flexibility in managing work and rest periods.

Companies and individuals with advanced fatigue management accreditation (AFM) will be able to schedule up to 11 consecutive 14-hour workdays as long as there is no driving between midnight and 4am.

The scheme also mandates particular rest intervals and frequent animal welfare checks.

"If a driver works for 14 hours in a 24-hour period they must have a minimum of 10 hours rest including seven continuous hours stationary rest including the hours between midnight and 4am," a spokeswoman for the NHVR says.

"Animal welfare requires that drivers stop and check the animals one hour after the commencement of the journey and every two hours during transport," the spokeswoman says.

The scheme will be available in all parts of Australia except Western Australia and the Northern Territory - the only two jurisdictions that have not adopted the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

The template is similar to basic fatigue management (BFM) in that it permits 14-hour shifts, but drivers under BFM must take a 24-hour break once they work six 14-hour days.

"The template does not allow a driver to drive longer hours on any single day than under BFM. However, it does allow them to drive for more consecutive days than BFM, provided that they have controls in place to manage the risk of driver fatigue," the spokeswoman says.

The scheme is the first of three templates the NHVR plans to introduce for the livestock transport sector.

The templates are the result of changes to AFM to streamline and reduce the costs of the scheme and prevent the need for trucking operators to compile a comprehensive safety case to gain accreditation.

"Up until now, operators had to invest significant time and money into developing their own separate safety case to apply for the AFM option," NHVR executive director of productivity and safety Geoff Casey says.

The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association (ALRTA) worked with the NHVR on the development of the template.

ALRTA committee member and Frasers Livestock Transport managing director Ross Fraser says the template balances freight efficiency and safety.

"Real world data that informed the approach clearly showed there are times when we need to work longer hours, but when this was necessary it was done in a way that any potential risks were managed by extra rest or sleep to offset the fatigue risks," he says.

ALRTA vice president Graeme Hoare expects many trucking operators in the livestock sector will use the template.

"There are many operators who are interested in the AFM option but who have been deterred by the previous complex and expensive application system," he says.

"The template package is easy to understand and will be a simple transition for operators already accredited under BFM. New entrants will also be greatly assisted by the packing of supporting information that clearly outlines the operational requirements and how to meet them."

The 14-day template was flagged last year at the ALRTA’s 2014 conference and initially allowed for 12 consecutive days of work. The NHVR intended to introduce the template by the end of last year.

It says it is currently working on two other templates.

"The NHVR is looking at extending the scheme in the future to allow AFM accredited operators access to longer work days (for long runs) and the ability to pool hours across multiple days (for journey flexibility). These variations would have their own specific risk-offsetting measures," the spokeswoman for the NHVR says.


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