Just what is fatigue management?

Maybe you've heard around the traps the term "fatigue management" but aren't entirely sure how it all works.

Well, it all starts with understanding driver fatigue and the possible consequences of fatigue on both the health of the driver, but also on road safety. In short, fatigue is more serious than just tiredness. It occurs when you are chronically tired even after you've slept, and can cause hand-eye coordination impairment, slower than normal reflexes, memory problems or even visual impairment. It can also be brought on by not giving yourself enough time between shifts to recuperate, long working hours (particularly common in long-haul driving roles) and physically taxing jobs.

If your body clock is suddenly upset by fluctuating shifts, long periods awake or inadequate rest when it is used to resting, it can have a lasting effect on your health and ability to function normally.

Regulations regarding fatigue management

With fatigue being a major cause for concern in the transport and haulage industry, national heavy vehicle driver fatigue laws are now in place to counteract the possibility of drivers becoming fatigued and their ability to work being compromised. Under Safe Work Australia, organisations must adhere to a stringent set of laws dictating the handling of fatigue management.

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator stipulates that those in the Chain of Responsibility above an employee (e.g. managers, directors etc.), must take 'reasonable steps' to ensure their employees are protected. These include:

  • Outlining how many hours drivers can work and how many hours they must rest between shifts
  • The recording of all work and rest times for all employees
  • Understanding the impacts and signs of fatigue in employees
  • Monitoring workers for signs of fatigue or fatigue-induced impairment
  • Putting in place guidelines for managing fatigue.

The onus doesn't just fall on the organisation to make sure they are strictly enforcing these health and safety rules. You as an individual have a duty-of-care to protect yourself and make sure adequate steps are taken to reduce the possibility of fatigue; including seeing a healthcare professional if you experience any of the symptoms.

Do you have more questions related to fatigue management and how we assist our drivers? Give National Heavy Haulage a call on 1300 792 249 to have a confidential chat today with one of our experts.

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