NTC defend new fatigue regulations

By: Chris Smith


In an exclusive letter to be printed in the December Issue of ABC, National Transport Commission (NTC) CEO Nick Dimopoulos

In an exclusive letter to be printed in the December Issue of ABC, National Transport Commission (NTC) CEO Nick Dimopoulos claims sections of the bus and coach industry want to re-write "our world’s best practice fatigue laws" so they don’t have to change their existing practices.

He makes reference to the article published in the October 2008 issue of ABC titled One size. It’s gall, which reported BusNSW's concerns about new work-rest regulations, especially a diminiution of rest requirements and the impact on current operational conditions.

Dimopoulos says the article contains grossly inaccurate, unverified statements.

"This only serves to confuse and misinform your readers," he claims.

"For example, BCA NSW (BusNSW) claims that rest breaks are being cut, reducing safety standards, and adding that 'it’s doubtful a bus driver will have the time to eat as well as go to the toilet within a 15-minute timeframe'.

"Fact: the 15-minute period is a minimum break. The ‘long’ minimum rest break has actually increased so drivers have a better opportunity to rest and return to work ‘fit-for-duty’."

Dimopoulos says the submission’s statement suggesting the new fatigue regulations will affect continuous night services in NSW is unfounded.

"Fact: drivers must take a minimum seven-hour break within this period – and the four nights in 14 days includes weekends. The night work restriction allows the body clock to ‘reset’ and is strongly supported by fatigue expert advice (and, I’m sure, passengers on night bus services)."

Dimopoulos says the Bus Industry Confederation (BIC)/NTC bus and coach information kits, distributed to association members, are a good start to better understand the new laws.

"Nevertheless, if – as your editorial asserts – the bus industry needs "a new set of regulations that reflect the industry’s operational requirements", they can write it themselves. It’s called Advanced Fatigue Management," he says.

Read the full letter in the December 2008 issue of ABC and email the Editor your comments on this hot issue.

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