RACV fined for fatigue related crash

RACV has been found guilty and fined in relation to an incident where a sub-contractor road side assist driver died in a fatigue related crash. PICTURE: ON FILE

RACV was convicted and fined $475,000 in the County Court on Thursday 16 December in relation to a fatigue related fatality where a sub-contracted roadside assist operator from YJ Auto Repairs died.

The organisation plead guilty to a single charge of failing to take reasonable care to ensure that persons other than employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety arising from the conduct of its undertaking.

The incident occurred early 10 March 2018 when the driver ran off the road and struck a tree in Healesville, with an investigation finding evidence that he had fallen asleep at the wheel.

The court heard the driver was employed by YJ Auto Repairs, based at Yarra Junction, which was sub-contracted by the RACV to operate a roadside assistance service.

At the time of the fatal crash, the driver had been on-call for 89 hours and had been working for 17 hours from the first call-out he received in the morning until the collision.

The court heard the RACV did not provide training or insist contractors trained their workers in the risks of fatigue or have a safe system of work related to fatigue.

The RACV said the health and safety of employees and contractors is extremely important to the auto club and it expresses deep regret that the incident occurred.

“We send our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of John Halls,” RACV wrote in a statement.

“This tragic incident revealed deficiencies in RACV’s approach to the provision of information, training and suggested policies and procedures to our contractors regarding fatigue management. We regret that this situation arose.

“As an organisation, we are committed to continually improving our health and safety systems and processes, including our approach to fatigue management.”

RACV said it’s been leading ongoing development and providing additional information and resources across the board on fatigue management.

“This includes the development of detailed information, resources and training on fatigue management and playing an active role supporting the Australian Automobile Association (AAA)’s Road Safety Research Program into the prevention of fatigued driving. RACV is committed to sharing the results and learnings from this work as broadly as possible once concluded.”

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said it was unacceptable for workers to be pushed beyond their mental and physical limits day after day with no time to recover.

“The dangers of fatigue are well known and, as we have tragically seen in this case, managing those risks can be the difference between someone going home at the end of the day or losing their life at work,” Dr Beer said.

“Having fatigue management systems in place and communicating them with workers and contractors are simple steps that could save a life.”

YJ Auto Repairs Pty Ltd, the deceased driver’s employer, is also facing charges over the incident and will appear in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court for a committal hearing on 15 July, 2022.