WA roadblocks reveal transport safety improvements and concerns

Friday, 28 November, 2008

A WorkSafe roadblock exercise in Western Australia in November revealed that transport companies were generally complying with the laws for commercial vehicles, but rest breaks were still a cause for concern.

The joint roadblock was conducted by WorkSafe inspectors and WA Police, with assistance from the State Emergency Service.

WorkSafe director Joe Attard said: “The results of these ongoing roadblocks suggest that compliance with the laws is improving, but it is disappointing to find that the mandatory rest breaks are still not being taken in some cases.

“We must keep in mind that fatigue remains a significant occupational safety and health issue in the commercial transport industry and that rest breaks are essential to safely undertaking long-distance driving.”

A total of 211 commercial vehicles were stopped, with six improvement notices and seven 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 another 42 transport companies on other fatigue-related issues such as medical checks for drivers, training of drivers and keeping proper records.

“A comprehensive code of practice for the management of fatigue has been in operation in WA since 1998 — updated in 2003 when the regulations came into effect — so transport companies have now had five years in which to comply with the laws,” Attard continued. “There seems to have been a steady increase in understanding of the fatigue laws and it does seem that the industry has come to grips with the fact that the laws are there to ensure that commercial vehicle drivers are given sufficient rest.

“But we are still finding far too many instances of drivers not having had sufficient rest; and it is worth reminding the industry that the human body has limitations and adequate sleep and rest is essential.” 

 

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