Driver Fatigue Dispute Continues

Questions around handling fatigue under the Advanced Fatigue Management scheme look set to continue, with negative comments by an expert. The Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association has reacted angrily to recent comments made in the media by Professor Ann Williamson about the Livestock and Rural Transport Fatigue Management Scheme.

 

“The Livestock AFM Template was developed by the NHVR in close consultation with both industry and fatigue experts,” said Kevin Keenan, ALRTA National President. “All views were taken into account when exploring suitable risk-offsets that are able to improve productivity and animal welfare without compromising safety.

 

“Professor Williamson is quite entitled to voice her general views about fatigue regulations in Australia. However, as a member of the NHVR’s Fatigue Expert Reference Group (FERG) the Professor receives privileged operational information and is paid by the NHVR to provide her opinion on specified fatigue matters on a confidential basis.

 

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“It is highly inappropriate for any FERG member to disclose the nature of the advice that was provided to the NHVR or to publicly express dissatisfaction about the decisions made by the NHVR after considering that advice. To do so undermines public confidence in the regulator.”

 

Introduced in the middle of 2015, the NHVR approved AFM template, specifically designed for livestock applications, delivers much needed flexibility for livestock transporters to complete their often unpredictable tasks in remote environments and to take better quality rest at more convenient times and locations.

 

“I am totally perplexed by the Professor’s suggestion that 8-10 hour days or using two drivers will improve safety or quality of life in remote environments,” said Keenan. “Shorter working days will just increase the likelihood that long rest breaks will need to be taken at remote locations without basic amenities.

 

“For most long distance drivers, shorter days will just mean longer periods away from their families. Drivers want to get the job done and get home again as soon as possible, the AFM template makes that possible.

 

“It’s also not a simple proposition to just use two drivers on longer trips. For starters, most sleeper cabs are not rated for carrying an off-duty driver while the vehicle is in motion and owner-drivers just don’t have the option. In addition, labour costs would double for the trip, another unmanned vehicle might have to be parked up, and then there is the tricky task of matching driver personalities in a confined space for long periods.”

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Author: Tim Giles

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