The latest bulletin from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) provides important information in relation to OSOM restrictions, fatigue provisions and bushfire recovery.
NHVR is urging all heavy vehicle operators to take steps to ensure safe travel when operating in and around areas affected by bushfires.
Where possible operators should avoid travelling in bushfire impacted zones, however if required, be aware of local emergency access arrangements.
Operators should be aware of options when using a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle for personal use, particularly in areas where there are no alternative means of transport.
The personal use exemption, allows an additional hour for private or non-commercial activities, such as reaching suitable sleeping accommodation and restocking supplies for a trip. The exemption applies if the truck is unladen or unhitched.
Drivers using the exemption still have a responsibility to manage their own fatigue and stop driving if tired.
The NHVR recently extended the exemption to include drivers operating under Basic and Advanced Fatigue Management, as well as under Standard hours.
An emergency services work and rest hour exemption may apply if working with or under the direction of emergency services. This includes transporting relief supplies or working to restore essential utilities and services.
For this exemption to apply, written or verbal direction must be received from emergency service personnel.
While the direction may exempt you from complying with work and rest limits and maintaining work diaries, they do not exempt an operator or a driver from managing fatigue.
Drivers should keep a record of any instruction given by emergency services.
Drivers should stop work and rest immediately if they are feeling fatigued at any time while operating a heavy vehicle.
Transport for NSW has advised that the restrictions placed on OSOM travel in southern NSW last week as a result of bushfires have now been lifted.
The situation in this area is still unpredictable and conditions may change at short notice. Operators are requested to maintain a high level of caution when travelling in these areas.
There are still a significant number of emergency service and Defence Force vehicles assisting with the recovery effort. Roads could be affected by smoke and there may still be damage in some areas as a result of the fires.
The Federal Government has made resources available through its National Bushfire Recovery Agency, which has been set up to coordinate a national response to rebuilding communities affected by bushfires.
Although conditions remain volatile in areas across Australia, the Government is allocating short-term assistance for those in need.
The NHVR confirms road closures across the country due to ongoing bushfires.
See below for up-to-date maps for the following states:
(Image: The NHVR has been out across eastern Victoria over the past few days escorting drivers through fire affected areas, along narrow or damaged roads often under poor visibility and missing signage. Pictured is one of three loads of hay in a convoy for 'Need for Feed' being escorted to properties between Bairnsdale and Orbost.)