Chain of Responsibility – Managing fatigue risks

From the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator

The Chain of Responsibility (CoR) means that everyone has a role in ensuring safe operations at each step in the supply chain. It’s everyone’s business. Here are five common CoR risks for operators managing driver fatigue and how to address them. These are simple, no- or low-cost steps that any operator can take to make their operations safer and meet their COR obligations.

Risk 1 – Blind scheduling

Often, a driver will be sent on a run from one destination to another. When an extra job comes in, the scheduler asks the driver to pick up or deliver an extra job that wasn’t part of the original journey. This puts the driver at risk of exceeding the maximum work hours, because the scheduler isn’t aware of the driver’s previous work and rest times. It’s vital that the scheduler has full oversight of the actual hours (not just scheduled hours) of work and rest that the driver has had in the last 24 hours, 7 days, 14 days and 28 days.

Managing your risk

• Check in directly with the driver about their work and rest hours.
• Review delivery times for the driver’s current and previous journeys.
• Review the driver’s previous work and rest hours, either through their work diary sheets, satellite tracking, tolling information or any combination of these.

Risk 2 – No training

Heavy vehicle drivers have a professional responsibility to know their work and rest requirements. However, many drivers don’t fill out their work diary correctly or don’t provide records to their record keeper. It’s important that operators and drivers have regular training to make sure they understand what’s expected of them and other parties in the Chain of Responsibility.

Managing your risk

• Provide fatigue training refresher courses for all drivers every six months.
• If a driver has been having trouble dealing with fatigue or record keeping, make sure they have one on-one training.
• Train schedulers specifically on their role in managing a driver’s fatigue and systems that can help them.
• Train supervisors and managers in CoR and risk management so they know what is required and how to manage issues.
• Train all staff in your organisation who review fatigue documents, such as work diaries.

Risk 3 – No system to capture work diary records

Under the Heavy Vehicle National Law, the operator is the driver’s record keeper. During an investigation, operators will be asked to provide work records for their employed drivers. Sometimes, however, operators can’t do this. They don’t have the relevant work diary pages for their drivers. They might be missing a single work diary sheet here and there, but often the operator is missing multiple pages or does not have any at all. It’s vital, however, that record keepers keep records.

Managing your risk

• Manually check the page number and date order of work diary pages to see that none are missing
• Adopt automated systems for tracking work diary pages
• Adopt documented systems for obtaining any missing pages
• Use handwritten ledgers. Whatever system is being used, if you are the fatigueregulated heavy vehicle driver’s record keeper, you must ensure you have all the relevant records.

Risk 4 – Not cross-checking work diaries

Many parties in the Chain of Responsibility fail to crosscheck the accuracy of work records. In conducting enquiries, investigators will examine the driver’s work diary pages and other records, such as trip sheets, toll dockets and other points of reference. They often find that these records do not match up. Under the Heavy Vehicle National Law, schedulers, operators and employers are responsible for the accuracy of work records. It’s their job to check work diary pages against other business records. If it doesn’t add up, they need to find out why.

Managing your risk

Here are examples of business records schedulers, operators and employers should check against the original work diary:
• trip sheets, including point of delivery documents
• satellite tracking data
• toll receipts and transactions
• gate entry and exit times
• dock times
• phone records
• fuel dockets.

Risk 5 – No documented system to track and fix problems

Most operators will move to deal with a fatigue issue by talking with the driver or setting up one-on-one training. Unfortunately, at this point, many operators don’t make a record of the steps they’ve taken. If something goes wrong and a CoR investigation kicks off, investigators will ask an operator if they have a system to pick up and address fatigue issues. Often, the operator can actually show investigators a system that identified the issue. This is a good start. But when investigators ask for a record of what steps were taken next, often all the operator can say is that they spoke to the driver. There is no formal, written, dated record of the guidance given. If you know or have dealt with the issue or behavior, document what you did. Clearly record any measures put in place and review these regularly to ensure they’re still effective.

Managing your risk

• Record the issues in written format, a summary of the discussion and the measures put in place to address it.
• Keep records of the action taken for three years.
• The driver should, where possible, sign the document to acknowledge the action and the measures put in place. This shows they understood the situation and the action. Again, keep this record too.
• If you change any organisational policy or procedure because of the incident, record this too and tell your staff about the changes. Keep a copy of this communication too.


Disclaimer: This fact sheet is only a guide and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

The content on this page is Copyright National Heavy Vehicle Regulator 2016 (