Reducing the work log to standard hours: hot topic in the workshop
A reduction in maximum working hours for truckers on the regular hours work diary is expected to be a hot topic of debate in industry workshops held this month to discuss potential changes to fatigue management laws. .
The National Transportation Commission (NTC) told Big Rigs that the online forums, which we are told do not include any truckers, will help inform the long-standing overhaul of the national heavy vehicle law.
Working with industry and jurisdiction, NTC hopes to develop simpler and easier fatigue management rules that achieve the right balance between safety and productivity, said Aaron de Rozario, NTC executive officer. , regulatory reform.
“As part of this process, we are looking at international best practices and discussing what that would mean for Australia,” said de Rozario.
The discussion of the NTC revolves around points such as:
- More frequent breaks and how would that work?
- Short breaks offering more flexibility
- Fewer items in the regular hours schedule
- Explore exceptional / unforeseen circumstances
- Reduce the time allowed between long breaks
- Reduce the authorized hours worked for the week
The NTC, however, stressed that the workshops are designed to flesh out the ideas of industry stakeholders and that the points discussed, such as the reduction of standard hours, are far from becoming law.
“The PowerPoint document was designed to encourage discussion and feedback as part of this consultation,” adds de Rozario.
“It reflects work in progress and does not represent a final position.
“Discussions are ongoing. Discussions will continue across the industry, including with drivers, to streamline the process.
Big Rigs has approached field operators for comments on these talking points.
One of the two most controversial talking points for Lyndon Watson, CEO of Don Watson Transport, centered on the idea of reducing maximum working hours for truckers working on the Standard Hours fatigue system from 72 to 60 hours. over a seven-day week.
“They effectively require that a driver-owner fleet go from a six-day fleet to a five-day fleet because it takes 12 hours to get from one capital to another,” Watson said.
“So each of these owner-drivers trying to make ends meet, I don’t see how they’re suddenly going to be able to reduce the capacity of their vehicles by almost 20%.
“I can only think with horror of the problems the industry would see if the owner-operator network were decimated with this.”
Watson believes adopting “international best practices” with managing fatigue and shortening a trucker’s workday will not work in Australia due to our unique geography and the great distances between major centers.
In his own operation, he says the 17-hour working day offered to all drivers is ideal because they can safely carry out city-to-city freight work.
“It gives drivers a chance to stop and rest if they are tired.”
Watson thinks it’s too dangerous to ask a driver to cover the same route in 14 hours.
“Setting that kind of deadline for when the driver has to start their next long break will just motivate drivers to lie about their fatigue and try to move on and get home.
“Right now, they know they can just stop for a nap. They will still get in there, but they can get a few hours off and head to their destination fresh, while still being within the 17 hour “work opportunity”.
Watson said that if the industry is to find more flexibility in managing fatigue, the answer does not lie in restricting the driver’s ability to take a break.
“In short, the cities do not come together. Australia is stuck with the fact that the time it takes to move a truck from one city to another is relatively fixed. “
Meanwhile, the Australian Trucking Association is urgently consulting its members on its future engagement with the HVNL review process, according to a scathing update from ATA President David Smith.
“The review began in November 2018. The ATA and its members have spent hundreds of hours drafting submissions and participating in meetings. But the review has not produced a single legislative amendment that could be presented to parliament, ”Smith said in the ATA’s latest weekly newsletter.
“Despite ministers’ commitment to simplify HVNL and focus on productivity and safety, the highest priority for NTC consultation with industry appears to be the operational details of fatigue management.
“The NTC’s proposal for the general fatigue management schedule would reduce the income of a typical local delivery driver by about $ 24,000 per year. This would prevent general hourly drivers from traveling between capitals.
“Despite the catastrophic impact of the proposal on the industry’s productivity and the incomes of its workers, the NTC circulated this proposal for a single week of industry consultation.
“It’s not good enough. The exam failed.