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Fatigue win: mandatory shift lengths for Queensland drivers

Feb 8, 2012News

Strenuous campaigning by the RTBU has delivered mandatory shift lengths for Queensland train drivers.

The Queensland Government has announced the new measures – similar to those in place in NSW – to manage fatigue and boost safety across the state’s growing rail network.

The new mandatory maximum shift lengths will provide a safeguard against rogue operators exploiting workers for quick profits – forcing drivers to work dangerously long shifts and have shorter rest breaks.

It will also put a stop to attempts to grind away workers conditions as seen recently when GRN attempted to amend their Traincrew Agreement to include longer shifts for single drivers. It will also significantly increase pressure on employers to adhere to mandatory hours during the transition time allowed to implement any staff reviews or roster changes.

The changes mean that for trains with two drivers the maximum shift length would be 12 hours and for single-driver locomotives, a nine hour maximum will be introduced.

The new standards also introduce a requirement that drivers take a minimum of 12 hours break between each shift where the driver ends a shift at a home depot and 8 hours break when away from the home depot.

Queensland’s rail industry is growing rapidly in line with the state’s mining boom, with a number of new operators and increased competition. While the new standards are in place, industry will be allowed 12 months to transition to the new requirements.

The RTBU has hailed the decision as an important advancement to safety within the industry and progress towards achieving national industry standards in key areas.

Details of the new minimum standard provision:

*             In the case of a two driver operation (including where the second person is a qualified train driver who is learning the route or undergoing an assessment), the maximum shift length is 12 hours.

*             In the case of a one driver operation, the maximum shift length is 9 hours.

*             In the case of suburban passenger rail operations, the maximum time at the driving controls is 8 hours.

*             There is to be a break of at least 12 continuous hours between each shift where the driver ends a shift at the home depot (a ‘home depot’ is the work location to which an employee has been appointed).

*             There is to be a break of at least 8 continuous hours between each shift where the driver ends a shift at an away depot.

*             A maximum number of 12 shifts and a maximum 132 hours to be worked in any 14 day period.