Fatigue Management Training a Must for Garbos

Today’s story on Sydney’s garbage truck drivers illustrates the need to have sound fatigue management practices in place for truck drivers. Former garbage truck drivers said they were required to work marathon shifts, which lead to fatigue related mistakes. They said they were on the road regularly for 14 hours and sometimes up to 17 hours.

Garbage truck driver Tony Farrow was dismissed when he refused to keep driving on a particularly long shift. He said he was constantly working 14-15 hour shifts. Driving a 22 tonne garbage truck is not like driving a car, when your manoeuvring the vehicle you only have a little room for error and when you are fatigued you start making little mistakes, which can be very unsafe for everyone.

Heavy vehicle drivers need to get fatigue management training

Heavy vehicle drivers such as garbage truck drivers are the most affected by fatigue related causes. This is because they work long hours in their line of work. Fatigue management is an important aspect of ensuring that we function at optimal rates. It is important for heavy vehicle drivers to undergo fatigue management training to obtain proper fatigue management skills.

The Transport Workers Union said that most of the council garbage drivers had no fatigue management training.

Under NSW law, truck drivers are allowed to work one 12-hour shift every 24 hours, or up to 14 hours if they and their employer have fatigue management training and accreditation.

Drivers and their employers should be trained in basic fatigue management training to manage fatigue. The training ensures both the drivers and employers have the knowledge of how fatigue arises and how to tackle cases of fatigue. Online fatigue management courses are a convenient way to get accreditation.

Fatigue management – some ways to reduce fatigue

If you work in the transport industry, you could be required to complete a fatigue management course. Basic fatigue management will instruct you on your responsibilities under the new legislation.
Fatigue management requires a multifaceted approach.

Some important factors include:

POWER NAPS

Taking a nap is not a sign of inability to cope with fatigue or being a poor driver; it is good fatigue management practice.  When any opportunity to nap and rest occurs, take it.

PLAN YOUR TRIPS

Most passenger and freight schedules will hinge on pickup and delivery times and dates.  It’s up to you and your Manager or Fleet Controller to plan the details of your Safe Driving Plan to include sleep periods, food and rest stops and extra time for sleeping, should you need it.

You safe driving plan should also include possible delays in your trip due to road repairs, break downs with other road users, flat tyres, wet weather or flooding. Your fatigue management course will detail how to complete your Safe Driving Plan.

DIET

You don’t have to be overweight to be a truck driver.  Eating high calorie, and fatty foods can make you sleepy even if you have had enough sleep. Big meals take more time to digest and can reduce alertness.  Drink plenty of water and eat sufficient food to keep you going.

Here is a list of recommended foods to eat.

  • Breads & Cereals: 4-5 servings daily selected from rice or pasta and bread
  • Vegetables and Fruit: at least 4-5 servings daily of fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables.
  • Meat and Meat Substitutes: 1-2 servings daily of lean beef, lamb, veal, chicken or pork.  Ask for you meat to be grilled rather than fried.
  • Milk or Dairy Products: 3-4 servings daily of milk, cheese or yogurt.
  • Fats: Butter and Margarine: Maximum of 1 tablespoon of butter or table margarine daily.
  • The typical Australian diet is too high in fat, sugar and salt and too low in carbohydrates and dietary fibre. Few people set out to eat a lot of fat, sugar and salt, but these come with many of our favourite foods such as burgers, chips and ice cream.

Complete your basic fatigue management course to ensure you comply with the recent safety legislation.

Basic fatigue management – some sleep tips for on the road

If you work in the transport industry, you may need to complete your basic fatigue management training. Fatigue management training courses provide drivers with the knowledge required to keep themselves and others safe on the road.

Here are some strategies to assist you as a driver in fatigue management.

  1. Find a quiet truck bay or rest stop
  2. Use dark curtains and liners to keep out light in the vehicle cabin.
  3. Make sure your sleeping berth is well ventilated.
  4. Take eye shades and earplugs with you.
  5. Turn off your mobile phone and radios.
  6. Take time to change out of your work clothes as you would at home.
  7. Drink plenty of water.
  8. If using a motel, rent one away from the highway and railway lines to reduce noise transference.
  9. Have a cool cabin to sleep in or an air conditioned room.

Working long hours will make you fatigued in several ways:

  1. It stops you resting and sleeping.
  2. It may have you on the road in the early morning when the body clock turns alertness down.
  3. It may make you bored and drowsy.

As you can see fatigue management is an important skill for drivers. Many drivers are required to complete a basic fatigue management course to ensure they are compliant with the current transport laws. Fortunately, can be completed online.

Basic fatigue management guidelines for sleep

Whether you are an owner, driver or transport business, a fatigue management course is the best way to meet your Chain of Responsibility and Fatigue Management requirements. Basic fatigue management will equip you with useful information to help you both professionally and personally. As a professional driver, you will be at your best, most alert and safest when working during the morning, the late afternoon and the early evening.  You will be at your worst performance level between 1am and 6 am when the body clock turns your body actions and alertness levels down.

Drivers who got less than 6 hours sleep in 24 hours experienced 4 times as many dangerous situations while they were driving.  Getting enough quality sleep is essential to your safety; and you should aim to get 7 ½ continuous hours of sleep where possible.

Transport delivery schedules must take sleep breaks into account as part of.  The trip plan or schedule must include adequate time for 7 hours sleep and time for the driver’s other essential activities.

If you are driving and getting little or no sleep at night, you are going to have to make up for it during the day.  During the day, your body clock will turn your alertness up resulting in a poorer quality of sleep.

Try to get as much sleep as possible at night, and take another nap during the afternoon siesta period if necessary to improve your level of sleep.

Taking naps at every opportunity can helps to compensate for those nights when you don’t get enough sleep.  Remember naps are not a substitute for 7 ½ hours of continuous sleep at night.

To get a good benefit from a nap you will need to achieve a period of 15 to 20 minutes duration.  A longer nap period of 30 to 40 minutes is even better when possible.  In some instances a 5 minute nap is of benefit although not really long enough.

SLEEP DEBT

If you get less than 7 ½ hours sleep each night you will build up a ‘sleep debt’.  Each day you go with less than 7 ½ hours sleep, the more fatigued you will be and the more unsafe you will become on the highway.

Take every opportunity available on your days off to have a good long night of sleep.  Before your next long trip ensure that you have fully repaid your “sleep debt” from the previous trip or trips.

SLEEP TIPS AT HOME

If you have trouble getting good quality sleep, here are some tips:

  • Try to setup your bedroom at home or wherever you sleep to be as comfortable as possible, so that you can sleep better.
  • Find the best room temperature to get to sleep.  It is most likely to be between 18 and 22°C and can be achieved by an air conditioner.
  • Turn down the volume of the ring tone on your phone or turn it off.  Wear earplugs to reduce noise and ask the family to be extra quiet when you are sleeping.
  • Hang extra thick curtains over the windows to reduce light coming into your room and wear eye shades or patches as another strategy.

There may be other things that you can do which is unique to your sleep patterns or sleeping environment. Online fatigue management courses are probably the best way to complete your fatigue management training.

Why do we need Fatigue Management for industry?

THE EFFECTS OF FATIGUE
We have defined fatigue as ‘loss of alertness, drowsy driving and falling sleep at the wheel’. It is certainly all of these things and more. (more…)

How to improve your fatigue management?

THE EFFECTS OF FATIGUE

We have defined fatigue as ‘loss of alertness, drowsy driving and falling sleep at the wheel’. It is certainly all of these things and more. (more…)

Fatigue Management Training for 4.5 tonnes and above

A National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, responsible for regulating all vehicles in Australia over 4.5 tonnes will become operational on 1 January 2013. (more…)

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