The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) today announced the appointment of an independent panel to advise the NHVR on decisions it takes in relation to Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM).
NHVR Chief Executive, Sal Petroccitto, said that establishment of the NHVR Fatigue Expert Reference Group (FERG) is a major milestone in the 20-year journey to support the growth of a professional fatigue management culture in the Australian road transport industry.
"Under one Regulator and one rule book, Australia's transport ministers have entrusted the NHVR to run a single AFM scheme for the country," said Mr Petroccitto.
"Now that the national law has commenced, the NHVR is the sole government agency approving AFM accreditation and we take that responsibility seriously.
"When we accredit an operator under AFM, we are delivering the highest possible level of recognition for fatigue management practice the NHVR can give.
"To support us in taking those decisions, we have assembled, through the FERG, the highest possible level of fatigue management expertise and experience," said Mr Petroccitto.
Mr Petroccitto said AFM is about doing safety differently.
"Operators accredited under the AFM scheme have NHVR approval to move beyond simply counting hours in a driver's diary to running their entire business with a direct focus on managing fatigue," he said.
"They are accountable for making sure their drivers are truly fit for duty and have good fatigue management in place, not only during each journey, but every day of the week that could impact on that journey.
"Operators report that, under AFM, they have more flexibility to schedule rosters that suit the business, more satisfied drivers who are in control of their work and rest hours, greater staff retention and better safety outcomes for the business overall," Mr Petroccitto said.
Under the AFM business rules, the NHVR must refer certain AFM applications to the FERG for advice. This will include many current AFM-accredited operators who were approved by former state-based regulators.
NHVR Fatigue Expert Reference Group (FERG)
Why has the FERG been formed?
The Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) scheme is established by section 458 of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL). In May 2013, responsible Ministers approved AFM Business Rules, which must be followed by the NHVR, under section 654 of the HVNL.
The Ministerially-approved AFM Business Rules require the NHVR to establish an independent panel of experts, known as the Fatigue Expert Reference Group (FERG), to provide the Regulator with advice upon certain AFM applicants' fatigue management systems.
The FERG cannot be engaged commercially and its advice is only provided at the request of the NHVR.
What will the FERG do?
The FERG is an advisory body to support the NHVR to decide on applications for AFM accreditation under the HVNL.
The AFM scheme allows transport operators to propose their own work and rest schedules, based on business needs, so long as fatigue risks are acceptable and are safely managed by the operator.
Under the AFM Business Rules, the NHVR must screen AFM applicants using the 'Risk Classification System' (RCS). Applications that have multiple medium or high risks must be referred to the FERG for advice.
Operators whose AFM applications are referred to FERG must submit a written safety case, but can elect to present this safety case in person to the FERG.
The FERG also provides advice to the NHVR on matters relating to the fatigue science underpinning the RCS and the general fatigue management schemes under the HVNL – Standard Hours, Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) and AFM.
For more information, visit www.nhvr.gov.au/ferg.