BIC seeks fatigue resolution as truckies gain AFM approval

By: Chris Smith

A fatigue management scheme extending the operating parameters for heavy vehicle drivers, working predominantly out of standard hours, may be

A fatigue management scheme extending the operating parameters for heavy vehicle drivers, working predominantly out of standard hours, may be the only option for operators and drivers running Night Rider services if ensuing talks between the bus industry and governments fail to resolve the new fatigue law issues.

Three transport operators have managed to gain accreditation under an Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) scheme. However, all are in the trucking industry.

The Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) says no bus or coach operators have tried for accreditation under the AFM to date.

Michael Apps from the BIC says a meeting between governments and associations on April 1, will seek to deliver a solution to the fatigue issues.

Apps says most bus and coach operators would only need, as a maximum, the flexibility of Basic Fatigue Management (BFM), which, in theory, should be able to be achieved through their existing accreditation processes.

"If we could include a basic set of standards in the BFM which relates to the existing accreditation process, operators would then be able to operate under BFM instead of lumping operators with the unnecessary red tape and cost burden of joining the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS)," he says.

Unlike ‘one-size-fits-all’ work and rest limits (Standard Hours), AFM has been designed so different bus and truck operators, operating out of the standard set up, can tailor a fatigue management plan to suit its operations by applying a genuine fatigue safety risk management approach.

NTC General Manager Safety and Environment Tim Eaton claims truck and bus operators now have the clear choice.

They can set rosters and schedules around standard work and rest limits, or step-up to a higher-level of audit-based safety risk management through AFM.

AFM accredited operators must comply with 10 auditable standards, including scheduling and rostering, operating limits, readiness for duty, health, management practices, workplace conditions, fatigue knowledge and awareness, responsibilities, records and documentation and internal review.

"Australia has a very diverse transport industry with unique geographic and operational challenges across many sectors. By working with recognised fatigue experts, truck and bus operators – large or small – can design a robust safety management system which better meets their own needs," he explained.

Dr Adam Fletcher and Dr Stuart Baulk have both been approved by the Fatigue Authorities Panel (FAP) as registered fatigue experts in accordance with the FAP business rules and will provide expert advice to the NTC to ensure high safety standards are in place and driver fatigue risks are properly managed.

Eaton also encourages the wider application of AFM through industry-specific templates.

"Industry-specific AFM templates can help simplify the accreditation process for transport operators," he claims.

Apps says the bus industry hasn’t developed an AFM template yet.

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