Long-distance driving is a safety hazard that can be required in many industries including farming and agriculture. When it comes to ‘commercial vehicle’ drivers’ (long-haul truck drivers), the legislation is specific and clear regarding work times and fatigue management. However, for people who drive long distances as a part of their work, the legislation is less clear. To ensure your workers are safe, farms and stations are required to identify their hazards (long-distance driving being one of them) then assess the risk and eliminate or minimise the risk as far as reasonably practicable.
To minimise your risk of long-distance driving you can, ensure your vehicles are safe, have a journey plan, and communicate that plan.
If you or one of your employees will be undertaking a long-distance drive the first thing to do is, ensure the vehicle is appropriate for the journey:
- Inspect the vehicle per the manual’s pre-start checklist,
- Ensure there is a spare tyre and tyre changing equipment,
- Ensure at least two litres of drinking water is on-board,
- Ensure there is a first aid kit, and
- Have a method of communication i.e. mobile phone.
Additional items that should be considered for trips in remote areas and over difficult terrain include:
- 48 hours’ worth of temperature-stable food,
- Extra drinking water (four litres),
- An air compressor,
- A fire extinguisher,
- A 2nd spare tyre.
Before leaving plan your journey, review a map and plan out the route and where you will stop for rests. We also recommend checking the Bureau of Meteorology’s website to avoid any bad weather. There are no specified driving and rest time limits for non-commercial-vehicle-drivers. However, we recommend ten minutes every two hours, thirty minutes every four hours, and a maximum of twelve hours per day.
Communicate your journey plan, let someone else know what time you are leaving, what time you plan to arrive and what route you’ll take. Advise them that you’ll notify them when you arrive safely so that if they don’t hear from you, they know to initiate assistance.
Taking these easy steps can minimise the risks of long-distance driving for you and your workers.
ProcessWorx has just finished developing a new Farm Work Health & Safety System that together with ProcessWorx’s support will greatly assist farmers to meet their WHS duty of care under the new WHS legislation.