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Driver Fatigue

Information adapted from Safe Work Australia and Comlaw material.

According to the National Transport Commission (Model Legislation – Heavy Vehicle Driver Fatigue) Regulations 2007 fatigue is described as:

(a) feeling sleepy; and

(b) feeling physically or mentally tired, weary or drowsy; and

(c) feeling exhausted or lacking energy; and

(d) behaving in a way that is consistent with paragraph (a), (b) or (c).

Fatigue is an acute, ongoing state of tiredness that leads to mental or physical exhaustion and prevents people from functioning within normal boundaries. It is more than feeling tired and drowsy, it is a physical condition that can occur when a person’s physical or mental limits are reached. Fatigue can occur as a result of various factors that may be work-related, lifestyle-related or a combination of both.


With driver fatigue there’s a significant risk in injury or death from an accident operating a vehicle, truck, machine, plant or other item that gets driven. The risks due to effects of fatigue can be short or long term, for example, a person can have:

  • difficulty in concentration and be easily distracted
  • poor judgment and decision making
  • reduced capacity for effective interpersonal communication
  • reduced hand-eye coordination and visual perception
  • reduced vigilance
  • slower reaction times, and
  • reduced memory

Additionally, longer term health effects can include heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, gastro-intestinal disorders, lower fertility, anxiety and/or depression.


If driver fatigue is a risk in your workplace it’s best to engage both a risk management and regulatory expert in the field of work, health and safety.


Information SourceContents
Code of Practice - How to Manage Work Health and Safety RisksThis code provides practical guidance for persons who have duties under the WHS Act and Regulations to manage risks to health and safety
Work Health and Safety in the Road Freight Transport IndustryThis report provides an overview of the work health and safety status within the road freight transport industry, an industry primarily engaged in transporting freight using trucks on public roads. Road freight transport is a sub-sector of the road transport industry.
Safe Work Australia - Draft Code of Practice - Traffic Management in WorkplacesThis draft code provides practical guidance for persons who manage risks involving traffic management. Please note this is guidance only and not a legislative instrument.
Safe Work Australia - Code of Practice – Managing the risks of plant in the workplaceRisk management strategy for managing risks associated with plant in the workplace. Please note this is guidance only and not a legislative instrument.
Safe Work Australia - Draft Model Code of Practice on managing risks of plant in rural workplaces (Not approved by Ministerial Council)Draft risk management strategy regarding the use of plant in rural workplaces. Please note this is guidance only and not a legislative instrument.
Comcare – Forklift safety, reducing the risksFact sheet on reducing risks involving forklift activities


Information sourceWhat it contains
Incident notification - Part 3, Section 35 to 37 of the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011The legislative requirements for incident notification to Comcare
Comcare - Guide to incident notificationHelps you decide whether you need to notify Comcare of an injury, illness or dangerous incident under the WHS Act
Page last updated: 31 Mar 2016