A Yara Valley mechanics has been fined $115,000 after a roadside assistance driver died in a fatigue-related car crash in 2018. The company, YJ Auto Repairs Pty Ltd, has been found guilty of failing to provide safe systems of work and proper training.
The driver worked for YJ Auto when they were hired by the RACV to provide roadside assistance services.
Under the arrangement the driver had to be on call for 96 hours straight, working four days and nights. At the time of the accident, he had been on call for 89 hours and had worked for 17 hours straight before falling asleep at the wheel and crashing.
YJ Auto Repairs had provided no training on how to prevent fatigue, and they didn't have proper work schedules in place to reduce the risk of fatigue. The court found YJ Auto should have had procedures like limiting shifts to 12 hours and ensuring eight-hour breaks between shifts.
The RACV was also fined $475,000 for their involvement in the incident.
WorkSafe released a statement reiterating that fatigue is more than just feeling tired; it can lead to physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion. Employers should manage work schedules, workloads, and provide training and support to prevent fatigue occurring.
To reduce the risk, employers should:
- Set realistic workloads and avoid long hours or overtime
- Schedule enough workers and resources to prevent overloading staff
- Plan leave, training, and handle unplanned absences
- Develop policies to identify and prevent fatigue, including limits on work hours
- Manage overtime, shift-swapping, and on-call duties
- Give employees adequate breaks between shifts
- Encourage workers to report fatigue and not work if they are too tired
Check out our Fatigue, Impairment and Shiftwork webpage for additional information and guidance.