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WorkSafe WA fatigue roadblock reveals compliance in most cases

25 September, 2009

A WorkSafe roadblock exercise at Port Hedland last weekend has revealed generally good compliance with fatigue safety laws, but some continuing problems with rest breaks.

The joint roadblock, conducted by WorkSafe inspectors and WA Police, involved commercial vehicles being observed leaving Perth then being pulled over at South Hedland to check whether the required rest breaks had been taken.

WorkSafe WA Commissioner Nina Lyhne said recently the operation found there had been continuing improvements in compliance with the fatigue laws for commercial vehicles, but there was still room for improvement.

“Fatigue is still a significant occupational safety and health issue in the commercial transport industry and it’s pleasing to see that transport companies are largely in compliance with the major aspects of WA’s fatigue regulations,” Lyhne said.

“On this occasion, inspectors found there were companies that were repeat offenders when it came to not complying with driver fatigue laws, but that most companies were performing well.

“Inspectors did find some continuing problems with mandatory rest breaks, and prohibition notices were issued when breaches were discovered.

“We’ve seen a steady increase in understanding of the fatigue laws since we began conducting these roadblocks five years ago, and it seems that the industry has generally come to grips with the fact that the laws are there to ensure commercial vehicle drivers are given sufficient rest.”

A total of 93 commercial vehicles were stopped at the Port Hedland roadblock, with three prohibition notices issued to drivers who had not had the mandatory seven-hour rest break.

In addition to these notices, inspectors will follow up with 22 transport companies on other fatigue-related issues such as medical checks for drivers, training of drivers and keeping proper records.

“Although an increased number of prohibition notices were issued on this occasion, there was a further reduction in the number of follow-ups required, a pleasing result overall,” Lyhne said.

“So although we’re pleased with the improvement in compliance, it is worth reminding the industry that the human body has limitations and adequate sleep and rest is essential to safely undertake long-distance driving.

“These roadblocks are an excellent example of cooperation between agencies, with valuable assistance provided to WorkSafe’s inspectors by WA Police, especially with regard to traffic management.

“We have been conducting these roadblocks for around five years now, and we intend to continue monitoring the commercial transport industry with roadblocks for some time to come.

“A comprehensive code of practice for the management of fatigue has been in operation in WA since 1998, and it was updated in 2003 when the regulations came into effect.”

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