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WA transport company fined for driver fatigue offences

31 August, 2007

A Bibra Lake transport company has been fined a total of $20,000 for failing to comply with WA’s laws on fatigue management for commercial vehicle drivers.

Holm Pty Ltd – trading as Cockburn Transport – pleaded guilty to four charges and was fined in the Fremantle Magistrates Court.

Cockburn Transport was fined $10,000 on two charges of a driver not having the required rest breaks and $10,000 on two charges of drivers not being certified as medically fit to drive commercial vehicles.

Most of the company’s work is long-distance trips to and from the Eastern States and Northern Territory, and a WorkSafe inspector visited the premises in October 2005 to examine driver trip records.

When the inspector examined the records, he discovered that one of the company’s commercial drivers had not had the best breaks required by the legislation during two legs of a return trip from the Eastern States.

The same driver and another were found not to have had certification from a medical practitioner on their fitness to drive a commercial vehicle, as required by WA’s occupational safety and health laws.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Nina Lyhne said the laws governing commercial driver fatigue had now been established for long enough for them to be well known to the industry.

“WorkSafe has been conducting regular roadblock exercises across the State over the past three years, and these have shown that the commercial vehicle industry appears to be increasingly listening to the fatigue message,” Lyhne said.

“Regulations governing the management of fatigue have been in operation in WA since 2003, and we’ve generally been pleased with the gradual increase in compliance over the past four years.

“However, cases such as this show that we cannot relax our vigilance in the industry, and our Transport team will continue to pay particular attention to long-distance runs to and from the Eastern States.

“It is crucial that the commercial transport industry recognises that fatigue is a significant occupational safety and health issue and that the human body has limitations and adequate sleep and rest is essential to safely undertake long-distance driving.”

WorkSafe undertakes regular driver fatigue roadblock exercises in close cooperation with several other agencies including WA Police, State Emergency Services, Main Roads WA and South Australia Transport Safety Compliance.

“WorkSafe takes the issue of commercial vehicle driver fatigue very seriously, and is prepared to take enforcement action against any employer who does not comply with the fatigue laws,” Lyhne said.

“A comprehensive code of practice for the management of fatigue has been in operation in WA since 1998, and I encourage any company involved in commercial vehicle transport to have copies of the code available to all employees.”

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