Despite drivers being the ones most at risk, when it comes to safety procedures and practices, they can be amongst the least informed. Taking the time to understand Australia’s complex compliance regulations or terminology, ensuring your staff get the information they need, is no simple job.
Keeping your driver’s safe and informed is one of the most important aspects of your job. The right GPS fleet management solution can give you the tools you need to better communicate and understand a driver’s daily journey.
Here’s how you can ensure your business is safe one.
Knowing Your Legislation
Many transport operations, from owner-driver to multi-national fleets, can struggle to comply with the various legislation. With the rules varying according to the vehicle and use scenario, it can be confusing to know which ones apply to your business. Legislation varies between states and vehicle classes, but a few to be aware of are:
Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL)
This covers all aspects of vehicle regulation across Australia, although the Northern Territory and Western Australia are yet to implement it fully. Registration, inspection, licensing and carriage of dangerous goods laws vary between each state and are enforced by that state’s authorities. HVNL applies to all vehicles 4.5 tonnes and over.
Chain Of Responsibility (CoR)
The law commands anyone who holds influence within the transport chain responsible for preventing breaches to the CoR. This not only includes drivers and managers, but suppliers, loaders, recipients and third party logistics. If a breach does occur, any of these parties can be held liable because of their actions or inactions, such as recipients setting unrealistic delivery windows. Changes to CoR, which come into effect in 2018, mean authorities only need a foreseeable risk, rather than an actual breach, to prosecute.
Fatigue Management, The Paper Logbook & Electronic Work Diaries
National heavy vehicle driver fatigue laws apply to fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles. These include a vehicle with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) of over 12t or a combination with a total GVM of over 12t. These laws allow drivers to work up to 15 hours in a 24-hour period depending on the driver qualifications and the type of work they are doing. The law covers all aspects of work and rest including recording rest stops. Drivers are currently required to carry their National Driver Work Diary with them and these must be accurately filled in and up to date at all times. However, soon they will be able to voluntarily use a certified electronic work diary in its place.
Work Health and Safety Act (WHS)
A general framework for protecting workers in the workplace. This includes eliminating and minimising risks where possible, as well as providing workers with effective education and safety practices. The WHS operates across Australia, with each state responsible for regulating it in their jurisdiction.
Share the Wisdom Both Ways
Communication is a two-way street and includes recognising where you have both been falling short. An open discussion about what needs improving not only helps in planning but demonstrates to your drivers that you care about their wellbeing. Make it a safe environment for your drivers to share their thoughts by creating a forum for conversation to highlight problems and work towards a realistic solution. Ensuring your staff discuss safety with you regardless of other pressing matters, such as tight deadlines, to get in the way. It’s better to have a brutally honest conversation about what’s going wrong than nothing being said or an accident on the road. Operators and their management team also need to communicate about bad driving behaviours, such as speeding, harsh braking or excessive idling. With everything out in the open you can recognise your businesses exposure and improve your channels of communication to get the message of safety across.
Equip Your Fleet and Build a Plan
The right data gives power to words. Equipping your fleet with GPS fleet tracking gives you hard evidence about driver behaviour. Driver analytics records events so they can be replayed for teaching opportunities. Sometimes the worst habits are the ones we don’t know we do, so real-time alerts for speeding or harsh braking allows drivers to correct themselves. Electronic Work Diaries can be used in conjunction with paper workbooks for added accuracy, meaning managers can instantly tell if their drivers are taking the correct breaks while on the road. With the right tools, you and your drivers can improve operations and learn from past mistakes.
The biggest issue facing the transport industry is driver safety training. Lack of awareness about your fleet’s situation leads to bad practices and devastating consequences. Your drivers need to be safe and the first step is effective communication.