Fatigue is a general term used to describe the feeling of being tired, drained or exhausted. Fatigue is usually accompanied by poor judgement, slower reactions to events and decreased skills, such as those used when in charge of a vehicle. Evidence also suggests that fatigued people are more likely to engage in risk taking behaviour. Fatigue may affect a person’s judgement of his or her own state of fatigue. The effective management of fatigue should not be left up to the individual driver and like other hazards in the workplace must be identified and controlled within a consultative process. However, employees do have a duty of care to take reasonable care for their own safety and not put themselves or others at risk by their actions or omissions. This would mean that employees:
Fatigue is a known cause of motor vehicle accidents, particularly single-vehicle accidents. By continuing to drive when sleepy, drivers place themselves and others at great risk of a serious accident. Sleep indicators include such things as a drowsy feeling; blurred vision; difficulty keeping eyes open; head nodding; excessive yawning; and repeatedly drifting out of lane.
Work practices such as working long hours, prolonged night work, working irregular hours, and early starting times cause or contribute to insufficient or poor quality sleep. The risk of fatigue is reduced when work schedules provide for sufficient good quality sleep. Only sleep cures fatigue.
This will be particular relevant when working long hours such as with late nights and early starts on excursions with students for instance. Some roles require driving across a Region to attend a meeting and then returning home at the end of the day. There will be many and diverse occasions when driver fatigue becomes an issue.
Consider the following points to reduce risk associated with driver fatigue:
Make sure that:
Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007
OHS Advisory Service on 1300 074 715