Fears that the NHVR is campaigning to keep drivers on the road for longer couldn’t be further from the truth, says the regulator.
A recent report in the Sydney Morning Herald under the heading ‘It is astounding’: Push for truck drivers to be on the road for up to 16 hours a day quoted the TWU criticising the NHVR’s recent Advanced Fatigue Management roadshow.
“No driver wants to work 15 or 16 hours in a day,” said Michael Kaine, national secretary of the Transport Workers Union.
“This kind of schedule is gruelling. It’s not the job of the regulator to get employers to sign up to a system that sees drivers sweated.”
But NHVR fatigue specialist Andreas Blahous said AFM is all about added flexibility for drivers, rather than a licence for operators to work them harder.
He said studies show that drivers working for an AFM accredited company actually work less hours and have less crashes.
“It’s about having the flexibility to work the hours when they need them, and that is supported by an operator who prepares the driver for the trip, has controls in place during the trip and allows them time off after the trip,” Blahous said.
He said June’s nationwide Fatigue Choices program, the NHVR’s new initiative to help drivers and operators understand and gain access to the options available under AFM, was a big success with more bookings for the one-on-one consultations than anticipated.
Blahous believes that one of the reasons that uptake of AFM lags well behind standard or BFM fatigue management options is the hangover from the days of the costly third-party consultation process required for entry.
Today, the NHVR says it’s stripped away those initial barriers to the point they have in-house staff that can walk operators through the process from as little as $150 per application, and they also encourage individual drivers to apply.
Blahous said there is no plan to increase the current 15.5-hour time allocation under current AFM rules.
But the National Road Freighters’ Association (NRFA) is hoping to persuade the NHVR otherwise with a 16-hour option designed to give individual drivers even more flexibility in their working day.
Queensland NRFA delegate Trevor Warner, of the Drivers’ Advocate Facebook page, and NRFA secretary Glyn Castanelli, who is also an NHVR auditor, have just lodged an application with the NHVR along those lines, and are also planning to push their case on social media from this month.
“What we’re saying is, seven hours sleep, plus an hour a day for meals, and then you’re free to do whatever you like in the remaining 16 hours like the rest of the people on the planet without fear of penalty,” said Warner.
The only caveats are that the driver must be using an EWD, and they can’t be scheduled to work more than 14 hours, adds Warner.
“I’m extremely confident that the NHVR will like what we’ve done because they really want to bring WA into their jurisdiction.
“One of the big key things with drivers is the work hours so if we can have a framework we can work to, I believe it will help synchronise the national law.”
There are 10 fatigue management standards that you need to comply with for AFM.
1. Scheduling and rostering
2. Readiness for duty
3. Fatigue knowledge and awareness
5. Internal review
6. Records and documentation
8. Workplace conditions
9. Management practices
10. Operating limits
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