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Fatigue can negatively impact your safety. It reduces your alertness, which can lead to errors and increase the risk of accidents and injuries. Fatigue management is intended to protect workers from fatigue. The following article explores fatigue management requirements in the workplace.

What Is Fatigue Management?

Fatigue management is the practice of minimising fatigue in the workplace. It may involve multiple steps, including shift and rostering design to limit the number of hours worked during a single shift. Fatigue can occur due to work and non-work factors, including family responsibilities and working extended hours.

Under the WHS Act, persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) must minimise the risk of fatigue as much as possible. Employees also have a duty to care for their safety and the safety of others. Working while fatigued can increase the risk of accidents.

Individuals can also suffer long-term consequences due to the harmful effects of fatigue. Fatigue may lead to diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal disorders.

Common Signs of Fatigue

Fatigue management helps decrease the risk of fatigue-related accidents by creating more awareness of the signs of fatigue. Common signs of fatigue include:

  • Frequent drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Excessive yawning
  • Sleeping or dozing at work
  • Blurred vision
  • Reduced hand-eye coordination

After recognising the signs of fatigue, workers have a responsibility to rest instead of continuing to work. Employers can also take steps to minimise fatigue, which may include eliminating or controlling the risks related to working fatigue, such as:

  • Shift and rostering design
  • Leaving management
  • Changes to the work environment
  • Providing adequate support

Employers may use shift rotations to help minimise fatigue or give an employee additional time off to recover from their fatigue. Many of these suggestions are outlined in the fatigue risk management systems outlined under the HVNL.

Work and Rest Requirements

The implementation of fatigue management practices depends on the method that you choose. The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) includes three options for addressing fatigue:

  • Standard Hours
  • Basic Fatigue Management
  • Advanced Fatigue Management

Standard hours apply to all drivers that do not have fatigue management accreditation. Obtaining accreditation for basic fatigue management (BFM) or advanced fatigue management (AFM) requires the completion of training programs offered through registered training organisations (RTOs).

For example, under standard hours, a driver requires at least 30 minutes of rest during an 8-hour shift. After earning basic fatigue management accreditation, a driver only requires 30 minutes of rest during a 9-hour shift. Advanced fatigue management offers even greater flexibility.

How Long Does a Fatigue Management Certificate Last?

As part of the basic fatigue management (BFM) and advanced fatigue management (AFM) requirements, drivers need to take a medical test every three years. Many drivers also retake their fatigue management training every three years to keep the information current.

How Long Does a WA Fatigue Management Certificate Last?

According to the Western Australian Heavy Vehicle Accreditation, you need to maintain records of your fatigue management systems for at least three years. The certificate for fatigue management training does not technically expire. However, retaking the training every three years is still recommended.

When Did Fatigue Management Legislation Become Law?

According to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), fatigued drivers must not operate a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle. The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) was adopted by most states on February 10th, 2014. The HVNL classifies the following vehicles as heavy vehicles:

  • Any vehicle with a gross vehicle mass of at least 12 tonnes
  • A bus with a gross vehicle mass of 4.5 tonnes that can carry more than 12 adults
  • A truck that weighs over 12 tonnes with equipment attached.

Along with fatigue management, most national drivers must comply with certain requirements for work and rest hours. During a 24-hour period, drivers cannot drive more than 12 hours.

Most trams, agricultural machinery, tractors, bulldozers, and commercial vehicles qualify as fatigue-regulated heavy vehicles. Outside of these vehicles, no laws regulate fatigue or require fatigue management in the workplace. However, PCBUs and employees have specific safety responsibilities and duties.

Fatigue management can be considered a form of risk management, as it helps mitigate the risks associated with working in a fatigued state. PCBUs have the primary duty to limit exposure to safety risks in the workplace, which includes the risks that come with impairment due to fatigue.


If you drive commercial vehicles, you may need to follow fatigue management strategies. Driver fatigue is a major threat to your safety and the safety of other people on the road. Fatigue management training can help you stay safe and avoid the dangerous effects of fatigue.

View upcoming fatigue management courses available through AlertForce to learn the latest fatigue risk management systems.

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