Date PostedJanuary 22, 2013

Fatigue Management Strategies to Keep Drivers Safe

FatigueManagementWe have all read a wealth of information that points to the hazards of fatigue especially in the workplace.

Workers are at risk when they are fatigued for any number of reasons and it is the responsibility of employers to ensure that they have effective fatigue management strategies in place to help manage the effects on their workers to increase workplace safety.

According to Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads at

Driver fatigue or ‘drowsy driving’ is a significant safety hazard for the road transport industry. The main causes of ‘drowsy driving’ are too little sleep, driving at times when you would normally be asleep and working or being awake for very long hours.

National reforms were developed to combat heavy vehicle driver fatigue. The laws are for drivers of fatigue regulated heavy vehicles.

The fatigue laws cover:

  • working hours
  • work diaries
  • fatigue management accreditation schemes
  • chain of responsibility.

Drivers must work to Standard Hours unless they and the operator they work for are accredited under an ‘hours option scheme’ such as Basic Fatigue Management or Advanced Fatigue Management.

Each person in the supply chain must take all reasonable steps to ensure a heavy vehicle driver can perform his or her duties without breaching road transport laws.

  • Fatigue regulated heavy vehicles
  • General obligations
  • Working hours options
  • National driver work diaries
  • Fatigue offence demerit points and penalties
  • Fatigue regulated heavy vehicles

A fatigue regulated heavy vehicle is:

  • a vehicle with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of over 12t
  • a combination when the total of the GVM is over 12t
  • buses over 4.5t with a seating capacity of more than 12 adults (including the driver).
  • A truck, or a combination including a truck, with a GVM of over 12t with a machine or implement attached to it is a fatigue regulated heavy vehicle.


Some heavy vehicles are not classed as fatigue regulated heavy vehicles. These include trams, motor vehicles modified to primarily operate as a machine or implement (agricultural machinery, bulldozers, tractors, etc.) and motor homes specifically modified for residential purposes (not just built with a sleeper berth).

General obligations

General duty requires all parties in the supply chain to take all reasonable steps to prevent the fatigue of heavy vehicle drivers. This is similar to occupational health and safety laws and means that:

  • drivers (PDF, 69 KB) must stop if they are feeling tired and take short-term fatigue measures such as rest breaks
  • operators and schedulers (PDF, 69 KB) must allow for adequate driver rest breaks and have flexible back-up plans to compensate for unplanned delays
  • loaders, unloaders and loading managers (PDF, 69 KB) must make sure queuing is managed so loading/unloading is done in a way to prevent fatigue
  • consignors and consignees (PDF, 69 KB) must make sure the terms of consignment will not result in, encourage, or provide an incentive for the driver (or a relevant party of the driver) to breach fatigue management laws.

Note: Contracts that require a driver to break the law are illegal.


For more information on your legal responsibilities as an employer, owner driver or driver or any other part of the supply chain visit the above link for the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.

It is worth everyone remembering that now the laws have been amended every person that has responsibility within the supply chain can be held accountable for their actions if they cause a breach of the current laws.

Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning and web strategy firm based in George St Brisbane. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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