Toll to increase fatigue monitoring
TWU eye damage fears fail to beat safety and management stance
TOLL HAS WON FAIR WORK COMMISSION (FWC) approval to expand the use of driver-focused safety technology to other group operations. FWC deputy president Richard Clancy ruled against Transport Worker Union (TWU) objections based on personal safety concerns and enterprise agreement powers.
The dispute relates to whether Toll has a right to further implement Guardian technology in its Toll Liquids (Liquids) and Toll Linehaul & Fleet Services (Linehaul) and digital video recorder (DVR) cameras in its Liquids business.
The Guardian technology relies on infrared mechanisms to track driver eye behaviour with audio and seat vibration alarms which sound immediately to alert the driver of fatigue events.
The TWU safety objection focuses on questions surrounding such research and the effects of low-level infrared beams on line-haul drivers.
In Clancy’s eyes, this foundered on expert opinion for Toll given by senior optics academic Dr Stephen Dain, who insists the level of any impact is too low to cause damage. It is acknowledged the research that has been done either was not specific to line-haul drivers or conducted by a company not accredited to undertake the specific testing that was done, as well as that Dain had not tested the technology himself.
But Dain’s position as emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales’ School of Optometry and Vision Science and his having chaired the National Association of Testing Authorities of Australia, Registration Advisory Committee in Optics and Radiometry, gave weight to his evidence.
This was helped by the TWU’s inability to find an expert to challenge it, though it was able to find other research that questions infrared impacts. Clancy acknowledges the drivers’ concerns.
“It is not submitted that the material obtained by the drivers, in itself, proves that the Guardian system will harm the eyesight of drivers. However, the documents have raised concerns in the minds of the drivers which they believe should be addressed and warrant further study.”
Toll argues the technology is not new and already in operation in 225 vehicles in the Liquids business in its own operations and those of competitors. Based on his own research, Toll Liquids national safety manager Sean Hepburn states he is aware Guardian technology is being used by Linfox, K&S, Kalari, Ron Finemore Transport and Wettenhalls.
The TWU also objected to the lack of safeguards against misuse of video “footage” and states the enterprise agreement fails to give management the requisite power to expand the rollout.
Hepburn, however, said the Guardian is primarily aimed at enhancing safety.
While he could not rule out the prospect Toll would discipline a tanker driver as a result of video obtained, its scope to do so would be very limited as there would need to be a genuine fatigue or distraction event for Toll to receive any footage from the Guardian and further, the footage Liquids receives is “very limited”.