Toll Transport Pty Ltd t/a Toll Shipping (Toll) has argued successfully to have fatigue-monitoring technology installed in many of its trucks. The Transport Workers Union (TWU) had challenged Toll’s decision before the Fair Work Commission (FWC).
Toll argued that it had the right to install the in-cab technology in its Toll Liquids (Liquids) and Toll Linehaul & Fleet Services (Linehaul) vehicles, and video cameras in its Liquids business.
The company described the technology as “an in-cab, real time, fatigue alerting and distraction monitoring system and the DVR cameras as inward and outward facing vehicle cameras, which record footage of the driver and the road.”
The technology relies on infrared technology to track driver eye behaviour with audio and seat vibration alarms that sound immediately to alert the driver of fatigue events. Toll is notified of the event in real time.
The technology was already installed and operational in approximately 225 vehicles across the Liquids business in:
- Port Kembla
- Wagga Wagga
- Western Australia
- Northern Territory
Toll stated that the use of technology was covered in Clause 40 Safe System of Work of its Agreement with its transport workers.
But the TWU argued that:
- The digital video recorder was unreasonably intrusive including but not limited to recording non-driving activities.
- The capacity for footage or data captured by the digital video recorder to be used for a purpose other than to ensure safe driving; Infrared Driver Fatigue/Distraction Monitoring System (“System”).
- The infrared light emitted from the System may cause health problems including but not limited to damage to a driver’s eyes.
- The lack of definitive proof that the infrared light emitted from the System is safe.
- The lack of definitive studies into the effect of the infrared light emitted from the System during prolonged night driving.
- The lack of definitive studies into the effect of the infrared light emitted from the System on sight.
- The capacity for data captured by the System to be used for a purpose other than to ensure safe driving.”
Toll’s National Safety Manager for Liquids Sean Hepburn said the in-cab technology “is a proactive safety tool” which has the capacity to reduce safety incidents related to fatigue by 95%.
He said drivers are also made aware that the vehicle they are driving is fitted with camera(s) and that footage will be collected and used for:
- monitoring fatigue, distractions and field of view events;
- investigating driving incidents, accidents and events; and
- investigating any other incident involving the driver of the vehicle e.g. complaint by a member of the public or external authority.
Mr Hepburn said the video footage would be used:
- to coach drivers to improve safety outcomes, driver skills and behaviours;
- to help exonerate drivers involved in an incident, and to recognise driver skill and performance; and
- when deemed appropriate, as evidence to discipline drivers (for example, where poor behaviour and safety issues are identified, or applicable road safety laws or Toll policies and procedures have been breached).
FWC Deputy President Richard Clancy said he was satisfied that clause 40 of the Toll Agreement provided a right to further implement the technology, and that the infrared monitoring system and upgraded video recorder constituted “reasonable steps to ensure that all work … is performed in accordance with a safe system of work”.
Deputy President Clancy added that the union provided “no evidence of specific complaints regarding the use of either form of technology”.
CoR compliance strategy
What is your company’s strategy for monitoring driver fatigue or disciplining drivers for breaches of their Chain of Responsibility (CoR) obligations?
Under CoR laws, you can be found liable and face huge financial penalties for encouraging drivers to breach fatigue laws, speed or overload their vehicles.
What proactive steps are you taking to manage your company’s CoR duties?
Are you prepared for when the CoR obligations for company executives change on 1 October?
Subscribe to CoR Adviser and following the information each month from the transport lawyers at Holding Redlich and you will be ready. What’s more, subscribers have access to all back issues of the newsletter in the digital library, so you can also catch up on any information you may have missed.
But don’t wait any longer. The deadline for ‘New CoR’ is fast approaching.