Opinion

Need for flexible, adaptive fatigue management

Fatigue – and its effect – can be felt differently by different people. Some might feel drowsy, others lose concentration, and some might feel as though they can push through. But no matter how the effects are felt, fatigue in the heavy vehicle industry can be fatal. 

Like drivers and operators, the NHVR is constantly focused on safety. From owners and operators, to supply chains and drivers, everyone has a role to play when it comes to safety on the job and in particular, minimising fatigue.

As it stands, the Heavy Vehicle National Law was written a decade ago, when the industry was very different. Moving forward, we understand the need for a law that is modern, clear and consistent. 

Earlier this year, the NHVR provided input into the National Transport Commission’s review of the laws. We consulted extensively with industry and put forward a submission focused strongly on the need for flexible and adaptive fatigue management options. 

It included the recommendations to increase flexibility to enable drivers to rest when they are fatigued, clear and agreed authority for drivers to stop when they are not fit to drive and greater recognition and use of safety technologies, including Electronic Work Diaries and Fatigue and Distraction Detection Technology, to help manage fatigue safety risks.

These three recommendations alone would enhance the industry significantly, delivering greater efficiency, productivity and importantly safety. Thank you to those who provided input and helped craft the submission. As the HVNL review progresses, we will continue to champion these improvements to fatigue regulation, as well as other safety and productivity outcomes for the industry. 

In the meantime, we’re looking at what we can do to help drivers and operators manage fatigue now. 

Our Fatigue Choices program is helping operators across the country assess their fatigue management needs – including converting from Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) to Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM). So far, we’ve delivered sessions to 134 operators across 16 locations, and we’ll continue to offer the program in person and online. 

I’m particularly encouraged by industry’s interest in the AFM scheme, which allows operators to take up safety systems that provide more flexibility in meeting fatigue requirements.

Our research shows that AFM accredited operators have better fatigue management systems, a stronger safety culture and better communication with drivers. Similarly, drivers that are part of AFM work fewer hours, with fewer infringements and crashes.

I encourage you to download a copy of our latest AFM booklet – Preparation to apply on our website, and book in for a free and tailored Fatigue Choices session to discuss your options. 

Moving forward, we’ll continue to engage with industry and governments on improvements for the heavy vehicle sector, while prioritising safety and fighting fatigue.

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