The Australasian Railway Association (ARA), on behalf of the Australian Rail Industry is stressing today that rail fatigue management is much more sophisticated than shift time limits and therefore, rail should be able to manage its fatigue using modern risk management methods.
The Australian rail industry has been a world-leader in managing the risk of fatigue for rail safety workers and train drivers since the early 1990’s.
Each Australian rail operator has its own fatigue management system in place that assesses each situation on its own merits and considers various factors such as an employee’s quality of sleep, intensity of the work, awareness of managing their fatigue and so on.
According to Bryan Nye, ARA CEO, managing fatigue on the rail network covers all rail workers such as track workers, traffic controllers etc as well as train drivers and needs to be implemented on a case-by-case basis.
“Good fatigue management is much more about the risk control measures in place than simply limiting work hours,” said Mr Nye.
The National Rail Safety Regulator will impose almost two pages of detailed requirements as part of its stringent fatigue management regime in Regulation 29 of the Draft Law.
“Rail operators should be able to adopt good practice and expert advice from internationally renowned fatigue management experts.
“As well as a duty of care, each rail operator undergoes an extensive accreditation process, on-going audits, regulatory oversight and approval of its fatigue management program to ensure they have appropriate and effective controls managing fatigue,” said Nye.
The industry continues to explore modern technologies and systems to keep up to date with best practice in fatigue management including fatigue symptom detection and real time monitoring of work-rest hours.
“Safety is the rail industry’s highest priority and all rail operators have systems in place to manage fatigue and ensure a safe working environment,” said Nye.
The Industry has worked with a number of internationally renowned fatigue management experts including the University of Central Queensland based Centre for Sleep Research.
“Over-prescriptive regulation that limits work hours without a scientific basis will stop industry innovation and restrict the industry from the benefits of its work with fatigue experts.”
The Rail Industry, through the Australian Standards endorsed Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board plans to develop its own Code of Practice to provide technical assistance to Rail Operators as they put together their fatigue management cases.