Frequently asked questions - Fatigue management for commercial vehicle drivers

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This page contains frequently asked questions about fatigue management for commercial vehicle drivers.

When did the Government introduce the regulations for driving commercial vehicles?

1 July 2003

As the responsible person at my workplace, what do I have to do?

(The 'responsible person at a workplace' is defined in regulation 3.130 of the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 as 'a person who, at a workplace, is an employer, the main contractor, a self-employed person or the person having control of the workplace'.) 

A number of things, including:

  • make sure your drivers drive in accordance with the regulations, are fit to drive and keep the required records;
  • develop a fatigue management plan; 
  • provide training for all of your drivers; and 
  • make sure all your drivers are certified as medically fit to drive a commercial vehicle.

Contact WorkSafe on 1300 307 877 or email safety@commerce.wa.gov.au to obtain an information pack.

Do I need to have a medical to drive a commercial vehicle?

If you fit the definition of a commercial driver, you need to have the appropriate medical examinations. Follow the links to download the new medical forms. There are two forms to be completed by both the commercial vehicle driver and the examining doctor: 

How many hours are solo drivers allowed to work in a day?

In any 72 hour period (three days) there must be a total of at least 27 hours of non-work time including three breaks of at least seven continuous hours. The remaining non-work time can be made up of other continuous breaks of 30 minutes or more. This non-work time cannot include breaks from driving of less than 30 minutes as they are counted in work time.

The example provided on page 13 of the Code of practice - Fatigue management of commercial vehicle drivers helps to explain how these requirements work in practice.

For practical purposes, to determine whether a driver has met the requirement for three breaks of at least seven continuous hours in any 72 hour period, the 72 hours is counted from the end of a long break of seven continuous hours or more. 

In well managed circumstances, a solo driver can work for up to 17 hours, but there must be a break of at least seven continuous hours immediately before and after the 17 hour period. These breaks of seven continuous hours would be included in the 27 hours of non-work time referred to above. The 17 hours will include breaks from driving of 20 minutes for every five hours, which would add up to at least one hour of breaks from driving. 

It is important to remember that the limits on the number of hours that can be worked in a 14 or 28 day period mean it is not possible to continuously work 17 hour days. 

Solo drivers can work through the night, but it is recommended that night work be kept to a minimum to guard against the risk of fatigue.

Solo drivers who do continuous rotating shift work for five or more days in a row, should, as far as practicable, have at least 24 continuous hours of non-work time between shift changes (for example, going from day shift to night shift).

What is work time?

  • Driving a commercial vehicle. 
  • Carrying out work incidental to the driving – loading / unloading / refuelling / paperwork / mechanical repairs or maintenance etc. 
  • Time spent operating plant that is integrated with the commercial vehicle, for example a crane. 
  • Time spent operating plant that has been transported on the commercial vehicle, for example a bobcat.

What is the longest time a solo driver can have between 7-hour breaks?

17 hours elapsed time – irrespective of whether the driver works for that whole period.
Example: A commercial vehicle driver may work for 10 hours and then the vehicle breaks down for 4 hours and the driver climbs in to the bunk and rests. When the driver recommences work he is only allowed to work for an additional 3 hours before the maximum of 17 hours has elapsed.

As a solo driver, can I take a five hour break from work (non-work time) and then take the remaining two hours later when I feel tired?

No, you must have at least seven consecutive hours in any 24-hour period.

Does the day always start and finish at midnight?

No.  It is a rolling clock, which starts when the driver starts work. That is why the regulations refer to a 24-hour period rather than a ‘day’.

When does a driver’s working day actually start?

When he or she starts working, not when the driving starts.

Example: A driver will carry out a pre-start check and maybe fuel the vehicle before starting driving the vehicle. Work time starts when the commercial vehicle driver does the pre-start check, not when the driving commences.

Must a driver have breaks throughout the day?

Yes.   For every 5 hours of work time a commercial vehicle driver must have 20 minutes breaks from driving.

What is a ‘break from driving’?

  • It is a break from the physical task of driving of between 10 and 20 minutes. 
  • It is a break of less than 30 minutes so the driver is still considered to be working. 
  • The driver can be loading / unloading / refuelling / completing paperwork / checking the load restraints etc. 

All of those activities provide a break from the task of driving

Can I sleep in the truck or vehicle?

The responsible person at the workplace should develop, implement and maintain operating policies and procedures in consultation with drivers to ensure the working environment assists in the prevention of fatigue as far as practicable.

Commercial vehicle drivers spend most of their work time in the cabin of a vehicle or item of mobile plant. The risk of fatigue can be reduced if the cabin is comfortable and well designed,
providing adequate space and support for the driver. There should be adjustable seating and, in road transport vehicles, an adequate sleeping berth where a driver sleeps during periods of non work time. The relevant Australian Design Rule ADR 42 should be used as a guide to the design of acceptable sleeping accommodation in the vehicle cabin.

Is washing the truck on my day off work time?

Yes, however the hours worked are to be recorded in the records kept and are included in the calculations to determine compliance with the regulations. Work time is defined in the Code of practice: Fatigue management for commercial vehicle drivers as:

'Work time' includes driving and all the activities that are associated with driving a commercial vehicle.

It includes time spent loading and unloading, completing any paperwork related to picking up and delivering the load; checking the load; refuelling; checking tyres; maintaining and cleaning the vehicle; and talking to supervisors and other drivers about the work arrangements.

Some of the time spent driving the commercial vehicle may be off-road. For example, a transport driver may have to drive through private property to collect goods. This off-road
driving and the time spent loading the goods would be work time.

Work time also includes breaks from driving of less than 30 minutes.

If I have a break from driving of 20 minutes each 5 hours, is that time  counted as work time?

Yes, but the time is shown in the 'breaks from driving' column of the trip schedule record, refer page 13 of the Code of practice: Fatigue management for commercial vehicle drivers.

Do the regulations apply to two-up drivers?

Can I get more information about fatigue management?

The risks are generally increased for night work – refer to pages 6 & 7 of the Code of practice: Commercial vehicle drivers.

When should I complete my record of driving?

You should complete your driving record as the trip progresses with breaks noted as they occur. Records are usually less accurate when drivers rely on their memory to record their times and breaks. 

Can records of driving be kept electronically?

Yes, but the record must be kept current in respect of work time, breaks from driving and non-work time.

Can I get more information about fatigue management?

For further information contact WorkSafe on 1300 307 877 or email safety@commerce.wa.gov.au

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