By: Peter Carr EROAD Director, Regulatory Market Development ANZ
The Heavy Vehicle National Law is clear that managing fatigue is a priority. Drivers are expected to manage their worktime to reduce the risk of fatigue, while operators and others through the chain of responsibility are expected, at the very least, to support them. It’s about having the whole system work towards this goal of reducing fatigue, risk of fatigue, and – the end goal – harms from fatigue.
A safety-minded road transport system would be designed to ensure that participants regularly ask a lot of operational questions when requiring someone to work in a situation of heightened risk of fatigue.
For example, is the requirement:
- Justified: has the requirement been arrived at through an active decision-making process that weighs net risks and benefits, as opposed to being merely an accident of timing?
- Reasonable: notwithstanding having a well-considered requirement, is the value of the requirement such that the heightened safety risk is actually worth accepting?
- Managed: have appropriate steps been taken, e.g. in the selection of the driver, vehicle and route, the provisioning for breaks, monitoring systems and/or other mitigants, to minimise the risk of fatigue impacting on completion of the requirement?
Similarly, a manager of transport operations might ask what underlying circumstances dictate the heightened risk inherent to the requirement as it is currently framed? They would enquire whether each circumstance is:
- Ongoing? Does it always have to be this way could the tasks be completed in a less risky way in future if changes start getting introduced now?
- Owned? Is there a party with the ability to control the nature and impact of that circumstance, and are they aware of, accountable for, and empowered to do so?
- Accepted? Has the current stance in each circumstance been adequately assessed and deemed justified, reasonable and managed?
It’s not enough to just ask the questions. One has to reflect on the answers and then put change or good practices into action. It is possible to shortcut the process by going straight to other people’s answers. However, as a rule, a change isn’t really real until one understands the why behind the what,
And the how that connects them. That comes from still asking the questions, still thinking about the answers, and actively relating them to your business and operations.
Thinking can be exhausting too. But it’s the good kind of tired, and worth the time and effort.
About the author
Peter Carr is the Director Regulatory Market Development with EROAD Ltd, responsible for working with government policy agencies and regulators across Australia and New Zealand on road safety, funding and taxation matters. Prior to joining EROAD, Peter was responsible for advising the New Zealand government on: the operation and performance of the land transport revenue, funding and investment systems; the rates of Road User Charges and Fuel Excise Duty; the use of tolling, debt and public-private partnerships; and the regulatory settings for heavy vehicle dimensions, mass, and access.