OHS Policy Instruction and Guideline Driving and Customs Vehicles - 1 July 2007

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1 INSTRUCTIONS AND GUIDELINES OHS Policy Instruction and Guideline Driving and Customs Vehicles - 1 July 2007 This Instruction and Guideline refers to: Practice Statement No: PS2007/04 OHS Policy OHS Risk Management HSMA_2 Published date: 10 January 2008 Availability: Internal and external BCS CLASSIFICATION: OHS_POLICY_DRIVING MOTOR VEHICLES FILE NUMBER: C04/05407

2 Subject: Purpose: Owner: Category: OHS Policy Guideline Driving and Customs Vehicles To provide policy advice on driving and Customs vehicles National Director, People and Place Division People The electronic version published on the intranet is the current Practice Statement. Summary of Main Points This OHS Policy Instruction and Guideline provides additional guidance in implementing the Customs Health and Safety Management Arrangements and the OHS Risk Management Practice Statement when managing issues and risks associated with driving and Customs vehicles. This Instruction and Guideline outlines: Legislative and Customs policy requirements for using Commonwealth Vehicles; Good driving tips and advice to minimise the risk of injury that can be used to develop local Standard Operating Procedures; and Additional references. Introduction The intended policy outcomes of this document are to ensure that Customs meets its legislative obligations and duty of care to successfully manage risks associated with driving motorised vehicles and other issues associated with Customs vehicles. This OHS Policy Instruction and Guideline outlines the legislative requirements on Customs and its employees to manage risks associated with driving motor vehicles. This document outlines mandatory driving behaviour required when using Commonwealth vehicles and other situations where travel is required for work reasons. The information can be used to assist in conducting OHS Risk Assessments for planning trips. It does not include specific procedures, as these will need to be developed locally in consideration of individual factors within each workplace. The information and advice can also be used when using any vehicle. Instructions and Guidelines Customs employees suffer a significant number of injuries while driving to or from work, or driving during work hours. Driving vehicles is inherently risky. By applying safe driving practices we can all help reduce the number of accidents and subsequent injuries. Using Commonwealth vehicles The Customs Chief Executive Instructions (Chapter 5) sets out our policy for using Commonwealth vehicles. Before driving a Commonwealth vehicle, employees must understand these requirements. Safe Driving Customs encourages and promotes safe driving; this involves three elements: 1. Safe Driver A safe driver means several things. It is someone with the appropriate licence to drive the particular vehicle. Someone who knows the current road rules in that region and understands and applies safe driving practices. A safe driver understands the effects of fatigue, alcohol or Page 2 of 7

3 other drugs on their ability to drive. A safe driver respects the rights of other road users, including pedestrians and cyclists. 2. Safe vehicles A safe vehicle is one that performs to its design specifications and is only used according to those specifications. All Customs vehicles need to be systematically maintained and serviced and have appropriate safety features. As a minimum Customs must consider the following when purchasing vehicles to ensure that a Customs vehicle does not pose any undue risk to its employees: The vehicle is appropriate for the intended use and environment of operation; For cars: o At least a 3 star ANCAP rating for all passenger fleet vehicles; o Driver and front passenger airbags; o ABS braking; o Centre rear lap sash seatbelt; o Vehicle mass between 1300kg and 1700kg; o Cargo barriers in vans and wagons; o Safe colours such as white, yellow and red. Light colours are safer than dark; o Side and curtain airbags; o Seatbelt reminder system; o Head rests adjusted correctly to reduce possible whiplash; and o Cruise control and automatic speed alert. Vehicles must be compatible for their intended use, for example, avoid unnecessary 4WD purchases for city based driving. Ensure all employees are provided with any additional training (such as 4WD) and hold the appropriate licence/certificate of competency required for operation of the vehicle (such as forklift certificate of competency). Work areas should consider designating or rotating employees to conduct a monthly safety and maintenance check of vehicles. Checks should include, engine oil, radiator coolant level, wiring, transmission and power steering fluids, battery, windscreen wipers and washer fluid, tyres, headlights, and inside controls. 3. Safe driver behaviour A driver s attitude is the most important aspect of safe driving. We encourage all drivers to drive safely and, by example, encourage the same among other road users. Putting it into practice Managers and supervisors are responsible to see that employees apply safe driving practices, whether they are driving Commonwealth or private vehicles. The five critical areas for ensuring safe driving practices are: Drink driving; Speeding; Fatigue; Seatbelts; and Mobile phones Alcohol and other drugs Around a third of all road deaths involve alcohol. A driver with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 is twice as likely to have an accident as a driver with zero blood alcohol. Safe drivers do not Page 3 of 7

4 drink and drive. They know the relevant blood alcohol limits in their State and limits applying to their driver s licence requirements. Customs employees are not permitted to drive Commonwealth vehicles while affected by alcohol, medications or illegal drugs. Customs vehicle insurance does not cover employees under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Managers and supervisors must intervene if an employee s behaviour suggests the influence of alcohol or drugs and this person is about to drive. Employees have a responsibility to tell their supervisor if they are taking medication that may impair their ability to drive. Speeding About a third of all fatal crashes involve speeding. This means not only exceeding the speed limit, but also driving faster than is safe for the road conditions at the time. Safe drivers adjust their speed to suit the conditions, such as rain, fog, at night or in heavy traffic. Customs employees must not exceed the speed limit while driving Commonwealth vehicles. Individual drivers are responsible for any fines or demerit points incurred while driving Commonwealth vehicles. Fatigue Driver fatigue is another major contributor to vehicle accidents. An estimated 20 percent of accidents involve fatigue. Fatigue impairs judgment and slows reaction times. Fatigue can also cause you to fall asleep at the wheel or experience micro sleeps during which you loose complete control of your vehicle. Micro sleeps are brief, unintended episodes of attention loss. Symptoms of micro sleeps are prolonged eye closure, head snapping, or blank stares. These are signs the driver is struggling to stay awake. Micro sleeps can last from a few seconds to several minutes, or even when the person s eyes are open. Drivers are often not aware a micro sleep has occurred. During a micro sleep the driver will not respond to information, such as a curve in the road or a stop signal and the car is completely out of control. As an example, a four-second micro sleep in a car travelling at 100km/hour would mean the car has travelled more than 111 metres out of control. Safe drivers are aware of the impact of fatigue when driving long distances, or when driving at night, or when driving following shift work. Safe drivers avoid fatigue by resting before departure, by taking rest breaks along the way and by having realistic time schedules. Safe drivers also avoid driving during normal sleeping hours. Customs does not have a policy that dictates set rest times to be adopted when travelling long distances in regular vehicles because each trip will vary due to a range of factors: such as personal health, environmental conditions, rest facilities and operational requirements. Current good practice advice that is well accepted across Australia suggests a 15-minute break every two hours and this can be used as a sound basis to plan long trips. However it should be noted that the requirements listed above may require this break timing to be altered. Employees travelling long distances (over two hours) should discuss their trip prior to leaving with their supervisor to estimate the best route and likely travel times. If major variations to the route or timing are required during the trip the employee should communicate these to their supervisor. Page 4 of 7

5 Seatbelts Seatbelts save lives and greatly reduce the risk of injury in the event of a crash. Around 4 percent of people do not wear seatbelts, and around 20 percent of people killed in vehicle crashes were not wearing seat belts. Safe drivers always wear seatbelts. All occupants of Commonwealth vehicles must wear seatbelts. Mobile phones Recent studies have shown that using a hand held mobile phone while driving can be more hazardous than driving while drunk. Reaction times were worse for people using mobile phones than for drivers with a blood alcohol level of Hands free mobiles are also hazardous and have been shown to reduce driver responsiveness to events while driving. The use of hand held mobile phones while driving is illegal in all Australian States and Territories. This includes while the vehicle is moving and when stopped in traffic or at traffic lights. Safe drivers switch off the phone or divert calls while driving a vehicle or, if they must make a call, pull over and park the vehicle. Customs employees must not use hand held mobile phones while driving. Where it is necessary to have a mobile phone available in a vehicle a hands free kit should be installed. Other issues Specialist Driver Training Where employees are required to drive specialist vehicles such as a 4WD and forklifts, or are required to drive in situations such as off-road, managers must conduct a risk assessment of the need for specialised driver training. This should consider the vehicle being used and the drivers experience with the vehicle or conditions. Managers should also consider providing defensive driver training for employees who are required to drive on a regular basis as part of their duties. Exercise caution in selecting training courses. Avoid brake & evade courses. These courses emphasise steering and braking skills rather than awareness of hazards and behavioural skills. Courses that involve a combination of classroom and on-road instruction should be selected. Buses and Heavy Vehicles In the rare instances where employees may be required to drive buses or other heavy vehicles, managers must conduct a risk assessment of the need for specialised driver training and / or special licence requirements. This should consider the vehicle being used, its purpose and the drivers experience with the vehicle and / or conditions. A uniform licensing system exist in Australia where a class C (car) licence entitles the holder to drive a vehicle up to and including 4.5 tonnes gross and / or seating up to 12 people including the driver. There are also provisions to manage the hazard of driver fatigue in the Occupational Health and Safety (Safety Standards) Regulations 1994 (the Regulations) for drivers of Buses seating 12 or more people including the driver. These include: - conducting risk assessments; - development and implementation of a driver fatigue management plan; and - record keeping. Page 5 of 7

6 Any work area that utilizes buses or heavy vehicles must comply with Part 11 of the Regulations. Fork-lift Trucks Some work areas such as the Container Examination Facility (CEF) require the use of forklift trucks. Legislation requires that a person operating a forklift must posses a valid licence or be under the supervision of a person with a valid licence whilst operating the vehicle for training purposes. Careless or incorrect use of forklifts results in a large number of injuries nationally each year. Safe operation of forklifts is essential and each workplace must conduct a risk assessment of the operation of forklifts in the area. The resulting Safe Operating Procedure (SOP) must be adhered to by all persons in the workplace; unsafe behaviour must not be tolerated and individuals placing themselves or others at risk may be subject to disciplinary action. Managers and other employees that do not necessarily operate the forklifts still need to be aware of the hazards associated with working in an environment that contains forklifts and the control measures introduced to reduce or eliminate the risks. A risk assessment of the operation of forklifts must consider issues such as: The operating environment and traffic management o Structural obstacles and issues (pillars, walls, doorways, inclines and uneven surfaces, maximum height clearance, etc) o Storage of goods o Pedestrian walkways and operational areas o Visible signage / floor markings o Lighting and visibility Operation of the vehicle o Appropriate use of vehicle o Speed of vehicle (including speed to weight ratio) o Stability of vehicle & load (including risks of overturning) Driving with raised forks Attachments Load weight and position Cornering o Visibility issues Large loads Reversing Cornering Driver behaviour o Use of seatbelts o Awareness of environment (such as location of other workers) o Distractions (such as radios and mobile phones) o Speeding and/or erratic breaking o Effects of alcohol and drugs (including prescription drugs) o Fatigue o Not exceeding the maximum number of people allowed in the cab o Not allowing colleagues to ride on the outside of the vehicle Further information on the safe operating of forklifts is contained in the SafeWork Victoria publication Forklift Safety: Reducing the Risk, which is available from the OHS site of the Customs Intranet. Page 6 of 7

7 Related Policies and references Customs Practice Statements: o OHS Policy Health and Safety Management Arrangements o OHS Policy Risk Management HSMA_2 Customs Instructions and Guidelines: o OHS Policy Guideline Alcohol and Drugs Chief Executive Instructions Chapter 5.5 Use of Commonwealth Vehicles Occupational Health and Safety (Safety Standards) Regulations 1994 (Part 11) Forklift Safety: Reducing the Risk 2 nd Edition WorkSafe Victoria Key roles and responsibilities The Policy Owner for this Practice Statement is: National Director, People and Place. Approval Approved on ( / 2007) by: Ian Grey National Director People and Place Page 7 of 7

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