WorkSafe WA: Safety of truck sleeper cabs in the spotlight

Source: Safe to Work

By J Smith

Safety concerns have prompted WorkSafe to take a close look at sleeper cabs in trucks involved in long distance trips.

Inspectors investigating the death of a truck driver earlier this year were alerted to problems with sleeper cabs in the course of that investigation and were prompted to look more closely at the issue.

Sixteen Prohibition Notices were issued to one transport company, and other companies are now being looked at. WorkSafe Director Joe Attard emphasised the importance of adequate rest for long distance commercial vehicle drivers.

"Transport companies that offer what is known as "hot shot" services to carry urgent freight keep their vehicles moving around the clock by using two drivers with one resting while the other drives," Attard said.

"If a driver is sleeping while the truck is on the move, the driver must be both comfortable and securely restrained, as per the relevant Australian Design Rule.

"Inspectors have found instances of trucks without sleeper cabs where the second driver is resting or sleeping on the vehicle's parcel shelf or sleeping in a swag on the tilt tray of the vehicle, which is far from a satisfactory arrangement.

"Even when there is a single driver resting while the truck is stationary, it is important that the sleeping berth complies with design rules so the driver is properly rested and does not have consequent issues with fatigue.

"The trucks on which inspectors are concentrating are rigid trucks, not prime movers which usually have a sleeper cab behind the driver's cabin.

"Inspectors from the Transport team will be concentrating on this issue whenever they attend transport companies to ensure that all vehicles used for long distance runs have the correct sleeping arrangements for drivers."

The WA Commission for Occupational Safety and Health has produced a Code of Practice on Fatigue Management for Commercial Vehicle Drivers which includes a section on establishing and maintaining appropriate workplace conditions.

Vehicles must be fitted with appropriate adjustable seating and an adequate sleeping berth that complies with Australian Design Rule ADR 42, as well as air conditioning if operating north of the 26th Parallel between October 1 and March 31.

WorkSafe issued a Safety Alert earlier this year on the issue of non-conforming sleeper cabs, and this can be found on WorkSafe's website.