Important news for operators and drivers, The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator recently announced that it had appointed an independent panel to make recommendations to the Regulator regarding the decisions it makes in relation to Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM).
According to the NHVR Chief Executive, Sal Petroccitto, the panel is a major milestone in the 20 year journey to support the growth of a professional fatigue management culture in the Aussie road transport industry.
The NHVR’s Fatigue Expert Reference Group (FERG) will help the organisation in its duty as the sole government agency responsible for AFM accreditation. Mr Petroccitto went on to state:
“Under one Regulator and one rule book, Australia’s transport ministers have entrusted the NHVR to run a single AFM scheme for the country,” said Mr Petroccitto.
“Now that the national law has commenced, the NHVR is the sole government agency approving AFM accreditation and we take that responsibility seriously.
“When we accredit an operator under AFM, we are delivering the highest possible level of recognition for fatigue management practice the NHVR can give.
Mr Petroccitto also explained that the AFM is about doing safety differently and FERG was about supporting the NHVR in making the right decisions when it comes to fatigue management. He went on to state:
“To support us in taking those decisions, we have assembled, through the FERG, the highest possible level of fatigue management expertise and experience,” said Mr Petroccitto.
“Operators accredited under the AFM scheme have NHVR approval to move beyond simply counting hours in a driver’s diary to running their entire business with a direct focus on managing fatigue,” he said.
He also explained that operators are accountable for ensuring their drivers are “truly fit” for duty and have good fatigue management in place which should be an ongoing concern, not just on each journey but every day of the week that could have some sort of impact on that journey. For example what a driver does the day before the journey may also affect his physical and mental state while on the journey. We must stop thinking of fatigue management in such a limited way, it should take lifestyle, daily operations etc. into consideration.
An added benefit for operators is that they have greater flexibility in regards to scheduling. Drivers benefit and are happier therefore attrition rates are lowered and safety is improved – overall the business benefits, as Petroccitto points out:
“Operators report that, under AFM, they have more flexibility to schedule rosters that suit the business, more satisfied drivers who are in control of their work and rest hours, greater staff retention and better safety outcomes for the business overall,” Mr Petroccitto said.
The NHVR also pointed out on their website that under the AFM business rule the NHVR must refer certain AFM applications to the FERG for advice including many current AFM-accredited operators who are approved by former state-based regulators.