Case Review: Driver Fatality linked to failure to monitor
A major transport company has entered into an enforceable undertaking to fund research into health and safety issues impacting long haul drivers, particularly sleep apnoea and fatigue related diseases and detailed driver safety training, following the death of a truck driver in 2018. Estimated at a cost of $750,000 this alternative to penalties is a reminder to all businesses that fatigue is as vital a risk to manage as ignition sources or COVID.
Initially charged with category 1 breaches of the National Heavy Vehicle laws the company successfully argued down to the category 2 charges of failure to implement a fit to drive system appropriate to manage the risk to drivers, failure to establish systems to identify potentially high risk drivers or advise other responsible persons (managers, schedulers, stock allocators etc) of potential additional risks that should have precluded rostering, and failure to implement and maintain a system for requiring (and checking adherence to) safe driving plans.
The driver, who was not cleared to be rostered died after crashing his truck through a barrier and falling 13 meters.
In accepting the undertaking over a prosecution and fine the regulator noted that the significant response to the incident in terms of systems upgrades and industry investment, as well as a exemplary record in this particular area, fell in favour of the undertaking.
Learnings for all businesses
All businesses have a responsibility to identify risks and to implement controls for those risks – transport companies included. While a robust response to an incident is commendable, clearly identifying and addressing known risks, in a system and business wide manner, is preferable every time.
Here to Help
Safety Highlights are things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business. They are provided as general information for you to consider and do not constitute advice. You should seek further advice on your situation by contacting your legal advisor. ACAPMA members can access resources and receive advice, guidance and support from the ACAPMA employment professionals via firstname.lastname@example.org , it is free for members. ACAPMA Membership delivers this and more benefits, see; https://acapma.com.au/membership/ for more information.
Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM&IR)