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Alive and alert! Managing fatigue in transport inquiry.

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Media Release

The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia

House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications, Transport and the Arts


Mr Paul Neville MP


21 July 1999


Alive and Alert!

Managing fatigue in transport inquiry


The impor tant issue of fatigue will be under scrutiny when the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications, Transport and the Arts holds the first public hearing in its inquiry into managing fatigue in transport in Adelaide on Monday 26 July 1999.


Mr Paul Neville MP, Chair of the committee, said:


Fatigue has emerged as the enemy of safety in all four modes of transport—air, sea, road and rail. The hours that people work, and they way they are worked, are important subsets of this problem.


Althou gh we hear about the consequences of fatigue related accidents in the transport industry, there are positive ways for dealing with fatigue.


The indications are that some companies and employees are ‘waking up’ to fatigue and giving it the attention it deserves.


Fatigue is a seminal issue in the field of workplace safety and efficiency

Anecdotal evidence tends to suggest that in road transport for example, tired drivers use more fuel and drive erratically. Well rested drivers use less fuel and pay more attention to driving. Fatigue management is a win win situation for employers, employees and the community.


Witnesses appearing before the committee in Adelaide reflect the variety of initiatives being developed to combat fatigue.


The Adelaide Centre for Sleep Research will address the committee on its work with industry, particularly in developing a fatigue modelling software package to be used in organising shifts and rosters. They have identified the correlation between fatigue and alcohol impairment, and will provide data showing that staying awake for 17 hours can lead to impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.05 per cent.


Representatives from the rail industry will give evidence about their initiatives in addressing the problem of fatigue.


The committee will be talking with Professor Laurence Hartley about an interesting approach to managing fatigue in road transport that has been implemented in Western Australia.


Representatives from Fremantle Pilots are expected to outline how fatigue impacts on marine pilots and what can be done to address the problem in this important aspect of maritime operations.


I wish to make it perfectly clear that the committee does not prejudge the issues, nor is there any element of a ‘witch hunt’ in this inquiry. Committee members want to recognise and discuss the positive initiatives being developed and implemented in the transport industry. We also want to identify any shortfalls and recommend to the government how any gaps might be plugged.


Ultimately, the whole community is responsible for fatigue. A major shift in attitude, similar to that which now exists with speed and drink driving, is needed to successfully combat this problem. We are currently examining a diverse range of submissions and are looking forward to receiving evidence from representative groups of transport industry players.


The public hearings will be held at:


Hotel Adelaide International,

62 Brougham Place,

North Adelaide

26 July 1999

From 1115 to 1700 hours


The committee extends an invitation to all interested members of the public and organisations to come to the public hearing.


The terms of reference for the inquiry are listed below. The public hearing program is attached.


Terms of Reference


In relation to managing fatigue in transport, the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Communications, Transport and the Arts is to inquire into, and report on, the following.


·  Causes of, and contributing factors to, fatigue.

·  Consequences of fatigue in air, sea, road and rail transport.

·  Initiatives in transport addressing the causes and effects of fatigue.

·  Ways of achieving greater responsibility by individuals, companies, and governments to reduce the problems related to fatigue in transport.



For further information:

Media contact: Paul Neville MP, Committee Chair (07)4152 0744or (02)6277 4940

Background: Adam Cunningham, Inquiry Secretary (02)6277 4597

Web site:



House of Representatives

Standing Committee on Communications, Transport and the Arts



Mr Paul Neville MP


Deputy Chair

Mr Colin Hollis MP



Mr Steve Gibbons MP

Mr Gary Hardgrave MP

Hon David Jull MP

Mr Peter Lindsay MP

Mr Stewart McArthur MP

Mr Frank Mossfield AM MP

Mr John Murphy MP

Mr Stuart St Clair MP



Correspondence and inquiries:

Committee secretary

House of Representatives

Standing Committee on Communications, Transport and the Arts

Parliament House


Tel (02)6277 4601; Fax (02)6277 2067




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