Frequently asked questions about fatigue management.
Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM)
I want to align my expiry date for AFM with the expiry dates with the rest of my NHVAS Module expiry dates; will I be able to do this?
Yes, AFM Accreditation is issued for a period of 2 years however, there are provisions within the AFM business rules to shorten or lengthen this period in order to align the expiry dates with other NHVAS modules.
Is AFM still bound by 14 and 28 day periods?
The certificates are required to include periods of time greater than 24 hours. Depending on the frequency of your reset breaks you may still see 14 days and 28 day periods on your certificate. These will be incorporated into your certificate as appropriate. However, the Risk Classification System (RCS) approach allows for greater potential flexibility – applicants can design as many tasks as they need for their business.
What is the processing time for AFM applications, what is the turnaround time?
The time taken to process your application may be affected by a variety of factors which include:
- including all relevant documents – if you are making reference to another process or policy within the application please be sure to include these as additional reference materials
- quality of the application – how well the risks are identified and how succinctly the countermeasures are explained will shorten the timeframes
- timeliness of your responses – it is likely that upon receipt of your documents we will offer some form of feedback which will require further information. The quicker that this information is supplied to the FMU, the shorter the timeframes will be
- demand – if we receive requests from multiple operators at the same time there will be unavoidable delays in processing. We will aim to treat all applications on a first in first out basis however, priority to transitional cases wherever possible.
A lot of the timeframes are dependent on when industry can get the information to the Fatigue Management Unit (FMU). All applications will be referred to FERG as they are ready. At this stage all documents will need to be finalised and with the FMU no later than four weeks prior to the scheduled FERG meeting.
Will there still be a difference in hours that may be worked between states? For example Queensland and New South Wales
No. States and territories have agreed to the maximum work time in a 24 hour period being unified to 15.5 hours. Approved AFM Operating Limits will be set based on the application and the recommendations from FERG. In some circumstances, there may be additional requirements placed on the use of work rest limits in NSW.
AFM transitioning operators
I have contractual arrangements that exceed 31st December 2015; that are dependent on schedules available under my current AFM. What do I do?
Review your schedules and start the process as soon as possible. The NHVR is working hard to ensure alterations and amendments to existing AFM operating limits are as minimal as possible. Ultimately the goal is to have no changes to existing hours, with the exception of work hours reducing from 16 hours to 15.5 hours.
Will there be an exemption available to me if my application has not been approved by 31 December 2015?
The current timeframe (31 December 2015) was set by Transport Ministers and at this stage the NHVR does not have authority to extend existing accreditations beyond that date. The NHVR is committed to working with all operators who have current AFM accreditation to ensure that they are all completed prior to 31 December 2015.
It is for this reason we strongly advise you begin this transitional process sooner rather than later; don’t wait until the last minute. The NHVR is working on templates and increasing staffing levels to ensure we meet this deadline, but we cannot do it without your input.
Are there exemptions from fatigue legislation available?
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is responsible for issuing fatigue management exemptions and has strict approval criteria for exemption applications. The exemptions include:
- work and rest hours exemptions
- work diary/literacy exemptions
- record keeping exemptions
See the Fatigue management exemptions page for more information.
I am having trouble with my record keeping obligations. Is there any flexibility available to help me?
In some circumstances the record keeping requirements for record keepers and operators can be extremely difficult to comply with or can result in multiple record keeping systems being kept for different legislative obligations. In these cases, you can apply for a Fatigue Record Keeping Exemption (Permit) from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).
See the Fatigue management exemptions page for more information.
I need more flexible work and rest hours but can't work under the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme. What options are available for me?
You can apply for a Work and Rest Hours Exemption (Permit) from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
To apply, an applicant has to:
- describe the work and rest hours they want
- describe the countermeasures and systems in place that make the hours safe
- explain why it is not possible to work under accreditation.
See the Work and rest hours exemptions page for more information.
There are a number of volunteer fire fighters around Australia who drive for a living and also drive fire appliances ‘after-hours’ to provide protection for communities. How will they be affected with fatigue management requirements?
The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) provides blanket exemptions from work, rest and record keeping work provisions to allow drivers to perform time critical duties in emergency situations. Information on these exemptions can be found in Sections 265 and 356 of the HVNL. Outside of emergency situations, drivers of fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles must continue to comply with all fatigue management requirements in the HVNL.
Fatigue Expert Reference Group (FERG)
How long will my application take to complete the FERG process?
The NHVR is working closely with the FERG to ensure responses are received in a timely manner. Currently there is an agreement to have responses from FERG within 10 Business days of hearing a submission at a meeting.
The certificate is issued after the responses have been received, any updates to the manual have been made and the audit is completed.
How often do FERG meet?
FERG is currently scheduled to meet monthly however additional meetings may be scheduled to meet demand.
What happens if FERG do not recommend the hours that I have proposed; is this able to be negotiated?
Yes. When you meet FERG they will discuss any concerns they may have with the work rest limits you have proposed. Any feedback from FERG will be discussed with the operator prior to the NHVR making a decision.
Fatigue management regulation
Do the HVNL fatigue management regulations apply to heavy vehicle activities on private roads?
All work performed in relation to a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle, is subject to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) in this area, even if some of that work (for example, refuelling or unloading the vehicle) is performed on private property.
If work which would otherwise be subject to the HVNL is mostly or entirely performed on private property, an application may be made to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) for an exemption from its operation.
Drivers performing work within 100km of their driver base (whether on a private or public road), are not required to carry or complete a work diary for that work. However, the driver’s record-keeper still has obligations in relation to recording the work. Again, if the work is being performed mostly or entirely on private roads, an application may be made to the NHVR for an exemption from its operation.
What are the fatigue-regulated driving hours in WA and NT?
WA fatigue management regulations require that there can be no more than 17 hours between breaks of at least 7 continuous hours of non-work time; also a Commercial Vehicle Driver must have 27 hours of non-work time in any 72 hour period. It is possible to work for 17 hours on two consecutive days but no more than 11 hours the next day.
There must be at least two periods of 24 continuous hours of non-work time in any 14 day period and a maximum of 168 working hours in any 14 day period. Working hours include driving hours and work incidental to driving, so time on a header operating other equipment (agricultural equipment, earthmoving equipment or a forklift) counts as working time therefore is included as part of the 17 hours.
All operators entering WA must be ensure their drivers meet the requirements of the WA Commercial Vehicle Driver Regulations in order to operate under the WA fatigue system. This includes completing the Worksafe WA online assessment. All operators of RAV combinations must be a member WAHVA (in addition to WA Commercial Vehicle Driver Regulations requirements) to use the WA fatigue system.
The Northern Territory does not regulate driving hours under transport law. The NT has adopted an outcome-based approach to managing driver fatigue. Under the NT Workplace Health and Safety Act, employers have an obligation to provide a safe workplace, which does not endanger workers or others. However operators complying with national regulations by adopting one of the National Heavy Driver Fatigue options (Standard, Basic and Advance), will ensure they are meeting their OH&S obligations in NT.
What options are available if I need more flexibility with my current work hours?
Additional driving hour flexibility can be gained through National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS) accreditation under Basic Fatigue Management and Advanced Fatigue Management.
There are six fatigue management standards that you need to comply with for Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) and ten Fatigue Management Standards and new AFM Business rules that you need to comply with for Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM).
See the Accreditation modules and benefits page for more information.
If you can't work under the NHVAS, you may be able to apply for a Work and Rest Hours Exemption (Permit). See the Work and rest hours exemptions page for more information.
Risk Classification System (RCS)
Do I have to complete the RCS for every one of my schedules?
No. Many operators have a policy to schedule drivers based on normal limits, with an additional process required if the driver needs to exceed the normal limits. If this applies to you, you should assess the normal limits and any potential uses of the outer limits using the RCS. Your safety case should mention the frequency with which you use the outer limit.
If you are not sure you can contact the FMU for guidance on what approach may be best for you.
How can I calculate the hours I need to cover all my schedules for use in the RCS, and for use in preparation of my safety case?
We suggest that in addition to the sample of 'typical' schedules your safety case should identify the risks associated with your operating limits; this will give us a way to determine what the overall risks are and what countermeasures are in place to assist in the mitigation thereof.
How can I use the RCS if the schedule I am calculating falls outside of table limits?
In most cases you will find that the number you are using (the Raw Score) will either fall above or below the scales presented. If the score you are using falls below the lowest risk identified then you would record this as “baseline”. If the score indicates a risk that is greater than that on the toll then record this as an “Exceeds Limits”. When addressing principle 1 you may need to calculate the actual percentage of within work rest; the formula for calculating the percentage of within work rest is as follows:
- Time spent resting / total number of hours in work opportunity x 100
- The cut-offs for low medium and high are outlined in the table on page 23 of the Risk Classification System for Advanced Fatigue Management Policy (PDF, 855KB).
For this principle:
- Scores of 20% or more are considered Baseline
- Scores less than 20% are considered Low
- Scores of less than 15% are considered Medium
- Scores of less than 10% are considered High
Scores of less than 6% are considered as Exceeds Limits.
Looking at my different schedules, the RCS shows that I have a high risk score in every one of the seven principals. What do I do?
Provided that drivers are not exposed to multiple high risks at the same time this shouldn’t be an issue. It is important to keep in mind that we consider the risks associated with an individual driver and not the global hours. You will need to address the risks associated with the global hours in your safety case so it is strongly recommended that you provide a sample of schedules that demonstrate how these hours are used and the individual driver’s risk exposure.
What are raw scores? And what do the percentages in the RCS mean?
The raw score is the physical number used to calculate the Risk Score. That number is then used to identify the level of risk. (i.e. the actual number or hours in a work opportunity or the physical number of hours of continuous stationary rest etc.)
How do I write a safety case?
The Safety Case is essentially a risk assessment of the proposed hours. It is how you explain that the risks identified with your proposed hours can be safely managed. Draft Guidance material has been provided for consultation – we welcome your feedback on this.
The NHVR is currently working to develop a template that can be followed to assist in formatting and layout of the safety case.
What must be included in my safety case?
The Safety Case must include information in relation the hours or schedules that you are asking for, to the risks associated with what you are asking for and what policies and procedures you have in place to manage those risks. It should present a concise logical explanation of how the fatigue risks identified with your proposal are safely managed.
Are abbreviations acceptable in a work diary?
The use of abbreviations may be considered acceptable if it is capable of being understood by a reasonable person and not designed to confuse or be misleading.
A decision to infringe, breach or otherwise penalise for an abbreviation will be made by an authorised officer based on the evidence available to them.
As a bus driver can I work under standard hours?
Bus drivers can operate under either Standard Hours OR Standard Bus and Coach Hours and can swap between them if they are fully compliant with the option they are changing into.
Can I get fines for spelling mistakes in my work diary?
A spelling mistake made by a driver in completing a work diary may be considered acceptable if it is capable of being understood by a reasonable person and is not deliberate or designed to be misleading.
A decision to infringe, breach or otherwise penalise for a spelling mistake will be made by an authorised officer based on the evidence available to them.
Do I have to keep a work diary when I travel in WA or the NT?
If you are completing a work diary and travel to WA or the NT for less than 7 days, you must continue to complete your work diary in accordance with the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).
If your travel will last for more than 7 days, you only have to complete your work diary from the last major relevant rest break before you leave WA or the NT.
All hours of work and rest must be counted when you return from WA and NT, even if you don't have to keep your work diary.
How do I fill out my work diary?
The National Driver Work Diary contains instructions, advice on fatigue laws and examples to help you complete it.
For more information see the Work diaries page.
How much does a work diary cost?
The National Driver Work Diary can be purchased for $25 from numerous locations around Australia.
See the Locations to purchase page for further information.
I am driving a heavy vehicle within 100km of my base,does my employer still need to keep driving hour records?
Under the Heavy Vehicle National Law, local area work is called 100km work.
A driver who is on a journey entirely within a 100km radius from their driver base, is not required by law to record activities in a work diary unless they are working under fatigue management accreditation/exemptions. The employer is responsible for keeping these records.
Drivers working within 100km radius of their base must still meet the maximum work and minimum rest requirements for their work and rest hour options.
I have trouble reading/writing/filling in my work diary. Can the NHVR help me?
If you have literacy problems or are have been diagnosed with a print media disability you can apply for a Work Diary Exemption (Permit).
When you apply you must:
- send us a statement from a qualified person (e.g., a doctor or psychologist) about your literacy problem
- tell us how you will record your work and rest without using the national driver work diary
- nominate a person who agrees to take your records and use them to fill in your work diary at the end of the trip.
If you are issued a Work Diary Exemption (Permit) you must abide by the conditions on the permit. Generally, these conditions will be:
- you must carry the permit when you are working
- you must make alternative record of your work and rest using the method described in your application
- you must give your alternative records to your nominee at the end of the trip and have them record your work and rest in your national driver work diary for you.
I lost my work diary - what do I do?
If your work diary is lost, stolen or destroyed, you must notify the NHVR or your local road transport authority within 2 business days. Until you purchase a new work diary, you can use a Supplementary work diary record (PDF 420KB) as a temporary record and carry it with you like a work diary.
You can only use this supplementary record for up to 7 business days. By the end of this period, you must be using a work diary.
A supplementary record must be treated the same way as your work diary. You must keep a copy of all temporary records with you in the vehicle for 28 days and give a copy to your record keeper within 21 days.
See the Work diaries page for more information.
Is the regulator working with the states about limited private use of heavy vehicles without needing to fill in a work diary? If a driver has say, had their major rest break once arriving into a town?
The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) clearly defines work as including any time spent driving a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle, regardless of whether that vehicle is towing trailers or not. The law does not provide the NHVR with powers to overrule this definition.
The NHVR has asked the National Transport Commission (NTC) to consider this issue further as part of the legislative forward work program.
What is a work diary?
The National Driver Work Diary is a written document that contains a record of the driver's work/rest history as required under the relevant legislation. Drivers must complete daily sheets in their work diary according to the work diary instructions.
Drivers must carry their work diary, and produce it when requested by an authorised officer.
What is happening with electronic work diaries?
An approach to national adoption of EWDs is being developed by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and the National Transport Commission (NTC) for consideration by transport ministers at the Transport and Infrastructure Council.
See the Electronic Work Diaries page for more information.
Where can I get a work diary?
The National Driver Work Diary can be purchased for $25 from numerous locations throughout Australia.
See the Locations to purchase page for further information.