Roadblock exercises reveal lingering issues with compliance of fatigue laws

Recent roadblock exercises participated by WorkSafe WA revealed persisting concerns with the transport industry’s compliance with fatigue management laws.

WorkSafe joined in four joint Austrans roadblock operations conducted by WA Police and involving the Explosives and Dangerous Goods section of the Department of Mines and Petroleum, Main Roads WA, and vehicle examiners from the Department of Transport.

The roadblock operations were done throughout the month of May, and those involved WorkSafe were at Neerabup, North Danbalup, Bedfordale and Upper Swan.

There were a total of 126 commercial vehicles stopped by WorkSafe over the four locations. Thirty three transport companies are presently undergoing follow-up inspections. There are currently 18 notices issued in the course of the inspections.

According to WorkSafe WA Commissioner Lex McCulloch, these operations found a reasonable level of compliance with the fatigue laws for commercial vehicles, but she also noted that there are lingering concerns in some areas.

“Fatigue is still a significant occupational safety and health issue in the commercial transport industry and it’s pleasing to see that transport companies are largely in compliance with the major aspects of WA’s fatigue relations,” said Mr McCulloch.

“However, the recent Austrans operations did show that there is still room for improvement because inspectors found some continuing problems with mandatory rest breaks, the maintenance of fatigue management plans, record keeping and mandatory medical checks for drivers.

“We’ve seen a steady increase in understanding of the fatigue laws since we began participating on roadblocks seven years ago, and it seems that the industry has generally come to grips with the fact that the laws are there to ensure commercial vehicle drivers are given sufficient rest.

“Although we’re pleased that the industry appears to be consistently complying, it is worth reminding the industry that the human body has limitations and adequate sleep and rest is essential to safely undertake long-distance driving.

“Most of the drivers involved in this exercise were driving within the State, so it is also timely to remind the transport industry that drivers operating on shorter routes than interstate runs must also comply with the fatigue management laws.

“WorkSafe has been involved in roadblock exercises for seven years now, and we intend to continue monitoring the commercial transport industry with roadblocks for some time to come.

“A comprehensive code of practice for the management of fatigue has been in operation in WA since 1998, and it was updated in 2003 when the regulations came into effect.

“All transport companies that operate in WA need to ensure that this code of practice is readily available in all their workplaces.”

For more information on fatigue management, visit the WorkSafe WA website or contact WorkSafe WA through 1300 307877.

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