The National Transport Commission is launching a review of the medical standards applied to truck drivers to ensure they reflect current medical knowledge. The last review into standards was published in 2012 and NTC CEO Paul Retter said he reckons it is time to look at the subject again.
“We regularly review the medical standards to make sure they are up to date with the latest medical evidence and reflect the needs of drivers and safety workers,” said Retter. “This review will measure and analyse any risks that people with certain medical conditions might pose to the safety of our transport networks, but it will be a balanced approach that takes people’s transport needs into consideration.
“We think the current guidelines are working well but it pays to check that view against the latest evidence, particularly when community safety could be affected.”
The NTC will be getting feedback from a range of stakeholders in the next year to assess the need for or impact of any changes to the standards. They are, currently, tendering for interested parties to help conduct this review, a consultant with medical expertise who can help liaise with the interested parties.
The results of the review are likely to affect the way rules are enforced on drivers in the industry. Anyone working in the trucking industry wishing to get involved and keep an interest in the review can get more information from the NTC website.
“Ensuring our drivers are healthy and well is a top priority for industry,” said Noelene Watson, ATA Chair, after the review was announced. “Heavy vehicle drivers have a demanding job, and ensuring their medical needs are met is essential for both safety and staff wellbeing., but the current commercial driver health standards lack effective screening tests for major health issues such as sleep apnoea and diabetes.
“Recent studies have estimated that more than 25 per cent of long distance truck drivers may have undiagnosed sleep apnoea. We’ve also had feedback from operators through our Trucking Australia open forum, where attendees called for the ATA to promote healthier driver lifestyles and seek better medical standards. We responded by developing a new series of driver health fact sheets, with the first released on 3 October.
“We were also charged with working to have the standards changed so drivers sent for medical tests can keep driving until the results are assessed. The ATA will work closely with the NTC as the review progresses, and press for medical standards that are both effective and fair.”