Under the Northern Territory Workplace Health and Safety Act all transport operators have an obligation to provide a safe and healthy working environment for employees, and others who may be put at risk. Drivers also have a key role to play in the management of their fatigue.
This page provides information about fatigue and the need to manage fatigue within the commercial road transport industry.
In 1998 the Northern Territory introduced a Fatigue Management Code of Practice. This code focuses on safe outcomes as a result of appropriate risk assessment, appropriate rest times, and driver health best practice.
The responsibility for the management of fatigue rests with all members of the commercial road transport industry. Those further along the chain, such as freight forwarders and receivers, also have a responsibility.
Human beings are day orientated, designed to work in the daytime and sleep at night.
Crash risk increases when the driver is driving at times when he or she would normally be asleep. There is also an increased crash risk during the mid-afternoon "siesta" hours.
Work practices may disrupt eating and sleeping routines and affect a driver's body rhythms or body clock, leading to cumulative or banked fatigue. Once a driver reaches this level of fatigue, the only solution is sufficient good quality sleep.
We all have an irresistible need to sleep, and the urge to sleep is greatest during the night and early morning. However, people differ in both the amount of sleep they need and their tolerance levels to a lack of sleep.
As a general guide, six hours sleep a night is regarded as a minimum. The most beneficial sleep is one taken in a single continuous period.
Poor sleep, or a small amount of sleep over several days, leads to severe sleep debt and the irresistible urge to sleep - thus increasing the risk of falling asleep at the wheel and crashing.
Stimulant drugs may reduce the likelihood of falling asleep when drowsy, but they don't reduce the need for sleep. Sleep which is delayed by drugs will need to be made up later.
People who experience excessive sleepiness during the day, despite adequate sleep at night, may suffer from a medical condition and should seek medical advice.
Fatigue indicators include:
The following warning signs will tell you your body is sleepy:
These warning signs should not be ignored. People have a limited ability to predict the onset of sleep, and by continuing to drive when sleepy they put themselves and others at risk.
The guiding principles for fatigue management include, but are not limited to, the following:
drivers need to monitor their own work performance and take regular periods of rest to avoid continuing work when tired.
All operators should conduct risk assessments and have in place a fatigue management system. This system should provide a framework for minimising and controlling risk factors associated with the operation.
A package of materials to assist operators undertake risk assessments and to develop fatigue management systems is available.
|NT Road Transport Association (NTRTA)||(08) 8947 7161|
|NT WorkSafe||(08) 8999 5010|
|Department of Lands and Planning||(08) 8924 7965|