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HVNL fatigue laws ‘unfair and absurd’ NatRoad says

August 1, 2019


The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) has criticised the current fatigue management laws in the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) in its response to the issues paper, Effective fatigue management, published by the National Transport Commission (NTC).

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said that NatRoad had provided the NTC with a number of case studies prior to the publication of its fatigue management issues paper.

“Each of those case studies about real member experiences shows the unfairness and absurdity of the current fatigue management laws in the Heavy Vehicle National Law,” he said.

“What other Australian worker expects to receive a fine of $165 for not recording some information in a work diary? No one does. But truck drivers put up with these indignities every day.

“Administrative fines for an error in failing to sign and date a diary page have little to do with controlling the risks of driving whilst fatigued. That is, however, the unfortunate focus of the current Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) relating to fatigue management. You can be compliant but still fatigued.

“NatRoad wants to see a system where enforcement under the new HVNL should target the most significant threats and consequences associated with driving fatigued. Enforcement efforts and sanctions should align with these threats and consequences. They should also be proportional to the severity of the risk.”

Mr Clark said a first warning system for record-keeping should be implemented where a failure to improve within a time limit is set as the point at which any sanction for administrative breaches is imposed.

No restrictive diary requirements should be in play he said.

“The current system is dysfunctional, as shown by the case studies set out in the Issues Paper and added to in the NatRoad submission.”

“Fatigue is a work health and safety issue and all drivers should be covered by a system that views fatigue management from a health and safety point of view.

“Therefore, one of the main conclusions of the NatRoad submission is that reform based on the WA system (where fatigue is regulated via work health and safety law) underpinning a performance-based system should be introduced. This is an outcome that would assist regulators and the industry.

“NatRoad looks forward to continuing to assist the NTC in this vital review,” Mr Clark said.

NatRoad’s submission to the NTC can be found here.

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