ATA calls for truck driver medical certificate extensions

NHVR to move on NHVAS medical requirements and audit timings

ATA calls for truck driver medical certificate extensions
Geoff Crouch


The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) calls for National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), dangerous goods regulators and driver licensing authorities should extend all full-term truck driver medical certificates by six months. 

This follows the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) announces an effective six-month extension of pilot and air traffic controller medical certificates. 

"Many truck drivers, including drivers who operate under NHVAS fatigue accreditation and drivers with dangerous goods licences, are required to have regular medicals," ATA chair Geoff Crouch says. 

"The ATA supports these medical requirements and has made significant contributions to the development of the driver medical standards, particularly on hearing and sleep apnoea.

"Our own TruckSafe scheme requires all truck drivers to hold medicals; for some time, it was the largest men’s health program in the country. 

"But right now, we need to take as much pressure off the health care system as we can. 

"The ATA is proposing that all routine, full-term driver medicals should be extended by six months. 

"Under our approach, the extension would not apply to medicals where the examining doctor considered that the driver should have to come back early for their next review. 

"Our proposal would enable governments to reduce the number of unnecessary doctors’ appointments, while still requiring medicals for drivers with a higher risk of medical issues," he said. 

Crouch said that the ATA’s TruckSafe program would align with any medical certificate extension agreed by governments.

Read about the Productivity Commission’s view on accreditation, here

Meanwhile, the NHVR announces temporary changes to National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS) medical requirements and face-to-face audit requirements, in response to the ongoing coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto says the regulator has listened to the industry and the common-sense changes would be implemented from today.

"We are making some practical changes that will help to take pressure off the health system and support operators and drivers in a time of unprecedented demand," Petroccitto says.

"The following arrangements will be in place for the next six months, when we will review if they need to continue.

These changes are:

heavy vehicle drivers operating under Advanced Fatigue Management (AFM) or Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) accreditations may continue to drive with an expired driver medical, until they can practicably obtain one

auditors can undertake all document and records validation and audits remotely, requesting electronic copies be emailed to them or by another suitable method and conducting conversations over the phone where applicable.

"With more than 7,000 businesses benefiting from the NHVAS we have taken the lead on reducing the burden on industry wherever possible," he said.

"We have also removed amenity provisions from access permits during curfew periods, worked with states to clarify border restrictions and supported states to make planning changes to support extended freight movement.

"While good driver health is important, it’s clear that we should be doing anything we can at the moment to reduce the burden on our medical facilities.

"I’d encourage all drivers to continue to proactively monitor their health, follow government advice around social distancing and hygiene and speak to your manager if they are feeling unwell.

"I want to encourage any operator or auditor who still has questions or concerns about being able to meet their obligations to get in contact with our accreditation team.

"We will be assessing situations on a case-by-case basis so we can ensure the safe, productive operation of the heavy vehicle industry for the benefit of all Australians."

To get in contact with accreditation email or phone 1300 MYNHVR.


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