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Regulator shares tips on managing risks of time slot bookings

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The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has published advice it hopes will help address the risks of tight delivery schedules and pick-up times in the heavy vehicle industry.

The guidance from the national regulator sets out to clearly define who has a duty to manage these safety risks in the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) and offers advice on control measures and strategies to mitigate those risks.

“The demand on drivers and other workers to meet stringent time slot requirements may result in pressures to make up time, which can result in driving while fatigued, breaking speed limits, or the rushed loading or unloading of vehicles,” said the regulator in its latest On the Road newsletter to industry.

“These behaviours can result in serious health and safety hazards.”

Below is an extract from the advice on the regulator’s website. For more information, click here.

How can I manage these risks?

The best practice approach is to manage risk proactively, rather than reacting after an incident has occurred. Being proactive will ensure everyone in the CoR is meeting their obligations to ensure the safety of their transport activities.

At a minimum, you should undertake a risk assessment and consider what risk controls are required to mitigate those risks.

Time slot booking risk controls

Risk controls to manage the risk of drivers being fatigued or speeding to meet time slot bookings often include the following strategies:

Distribution centre/warehouse facilities

  • don’t enter into a contract with conditions that would have the effect of causing a driver to speed or drive while fatigued
  • ensure sufficient staff are available to load or unload vehicles and ensure loaders and unloaders work efficiently
  • in the event of a delay, communicate with operators and drivers to allow drivers the opportunity to better manage their fatigue along the journey (rather than arriving as scheduled only to have to try to rest while queueing, for example)
  • don’t exceed loading or unloading facilities’ capabilities when creating bookings
  • educate workers undertaking loading and unloading tasks about the impacts on drivers and operators arising from loading/unloading delays (both scheduled and unscheduled)
  • provide back-up bookings to allow flexibility in the event of a delay
  • have contingencies in place to minimise delays to account for any unforeseen issues on site
  • prevent queuing of vehicles onto the road as this increases the public risk of passing vehicle collisions with waiting vehicles
  • ensure contracts allow sufficient time to absorb delays (do not penalise drivers for missing or being late for a booking time)
  • include space for vehicle queueing when designing or configuring premises
  • have a specific traffic management plan in place
  • schedule time slots where possible to minimise night driving
  • allocate a specific area and a procedure to allow drivers and other workers to check that loads are properly restrained, or to respond to any other vehicle safety issue prior to leaving site.

Transport operators and schedulers

  • when developing a driver’s schedule, consider the complete task the driver has to perform (including the potential impact of traffic delays or other unforeseen circumstances) and allow the driver adequate time to complete the task lawfully
  • minimise queuing times by planning the journey to arrive at scheduled times and using any extra time around bookings to rest where possible
  • don’t enter into a contract that would have the effect of causing a driver to speed or drive while fatigued to meet booking obligations
  • ensure contracts allow sufficient time to absorb delays (do not penalise drivers for missing or being late for a booking time)
  • ensure contracts have flexibility in booking times to cater for minor variations in the driver’s expected arrival time
  • when developing schedules, ensure contingencies are in place should a driver become unwell or is unable to complete the journey
  • maintain open, two-way communication with all relevant parties (and drivers) and encourage early notification of delays to allow appropriate alternative arrangements to be made
  • ensure back-up time slot bookings are made available should there be a delay
  • provide information, education and training to workers, which includes the risks arising from working while fatigued or speeding
  • introduce Electronic Work Diaries (EWDs) to help drivers effectively manage their fatigue
  • implement technology solutions, such as fatigue detection devices or GPS monitoring devices, to ensure driver safety and other legal obligations are being met.
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