Transport industry operators have slammed the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme’s (NHVAS) Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) rules around driver medicals for not being in line with state requirements.
Without a current medical certificate, drivers are required to return to standard hours and are likely to need to take a 48-hour rest break before doing so.
Under the NHVAS’s rules, medical examinations must be conducted at least once every three years for drivers aged 49 and under, and yearly for drivers aged 50 and over.
At the Technical Q&A at the Australia Trucking Association’s Technology and Maintenance Conference in Melbourne on Tuesday, October 17, host Jodie Broadbent read out a question that was submitted anonymously, asking whether BFM requirements could be changed to align with state requirements.
Broadbent explained: “This came about when an operator has BFM in his business and drivers getting a BFM medical also need one because of their age.
“The two don’t seem to speak to each other. The renewals don’t seem to match up.”
She also pointed out that longer lead times could help with keeping medical certificates current, as by the time a renewal notice arrives in your mailbox, you might only have three weeks before your medical expires.
“In country areas, it can take 6-8 weeks for you to get an appointment to see a doctor who is able to do this assessment,” she added.
Paul Simionato, director of the NHVR’s southern region, said it’s frustrating that state requirements differ from the NHVAS’s requirements.
“Ideally long-term our national heavy vehicle licence might resolve everything, we’ll have consistency across all of Australia.
“Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about state requirements.
“But speaking with the accreditation team, they align with the NHVAS business rules.
“There was some social media posting recently from the NHVR in relation to the line for medical reviews and getting in there quick.
“Everyone is well aware of the doctor shortages in rural areas. It’s all about the planning. But maybe that’s something we need to consider, do we need to extend that lead time?”
Broadbent responded that in her opinion, BFM requirements are the issue here, rather than state requirements.
“If the BFM requirement simply said that the driver has to comply with the state requirement, or if he is younger than the required age for that state, he needs to follow the BFM process, wouldn’t that make sense?” she said.
Simionato replied: “We are well aware that there is an impact on industry at this time.
“There is a bit of work at the moment in relation to the policy position around BFM to make some of those changes, to benefit the industry.
“We will certainly take your comments on board and see what we can do.”