‘Please advise if there is a rule/law stating maximum number of hours permissible to drive per day, and where I may find this information?’
For drivers of heavy vehicles there IS legislation: under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (go to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator website to access the legislation and more information). The law is now in place in Victoria, as well as in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania - it does not apply in Western Australia or the Northern Territory (see below).
These laws cover all aspects of work and rest relating to heavy vehicles including:
- work and rest hours
- recording work and rest times
- fatigue management exemptions, and
- Chain of Responsibility obligations.
There is a section on the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator site which deals specifically with Safety, accreditation and compliance information on Fatigue Management with subsections 'About Fatigue Management' ; 'Work and Rest requirements' and more. Nevertheless, even when there is no specific legislation, the employer has a duty of care under Victorian OHS Act to provide and maintain a healthy and safe workplace, systems of work, plant and so on for all employees. In the case of employees who are required to drive, the following factors (at least) need to be considered in order to try to ensure that fatigue levels are minimised:
- hours 'on the road' (not only those driving)
- driving conditions (traffic, country roads, etc)
- time of day/night
- overall length of working day
- type and state of vehicle (certain vehicles are covered under the Road Safety Act)
- potential of worker being stranded if car breaks down/accident
- what other work they were also doing (eg physical work, like loading/unloading; emotionally demanding work - eg dealing with difficult "clients", potential of violence, etc)
- past incidents (not only accidents and near misses, but incidents of violence/potential incidents, reports of stress, etc)
- discussions with relevant unions
- Clauses in the relevant Award, Enterprise or Workplace Agreement
See our webpage Driving – maximum kms or hours? for more information.