OPINION: Fatigue lawsuit was only a matter of time
GRACEMERE'S Garry Fidler worked in the mining industry for 31 years and was part of BMA's original fatigue management committee when legislation on the issue was introduced in 1999.
Over several years, Mr Fidler was part of a small group that worked towards creating the company-wide policy which was then rolled out across all sites.
This involved giving presentations to the workforce on fatigue, as well as bringing in emergency services workers and those who had lost loved ones in crashes to talk about the lasting impact of fatigue on the community.
Mr Fidler was also involved in two Coronial inquests into fatigue held in Rockhampton.
He told The Morning Bulletin his research and discussions with medical experts about fatigue had shown the body was often 'tricked' into thinking it was not tired.
"(Fatigue is) a very insidious thing,” Mr Fidler said.
Mr Fidler said his own experience in the mining industry had shown fatigue was not something companies could deal with by themselves, but an industry-wide approach would serve workers better.
He said part of the problem was many companies believed they were compliant simply by having a policy, but did not take further steps to protect workers.
Read his full Letter to the Editor below.
The recent win in a court case by a miner over fatigue was only a matter of time.
Most larger mining companies have a fatigue policy, but only a few if any understand what fatigue actually is, and the many causal factors related to fatigue.
Having a fatigue policy was thought that was all that was required to comply with mining legislation.
However, the recent decision by the court shows companies, employers, and employees must also understand fatigue, and ensure their policies are effective and, above all, workable.
Why does a person take such a high risk to get home after a work bloc?
Well, I asked some.
The commonality between all was, work is work and home is home.
And anyway, I have done it many times and nothing has happened to me yet.
I find this concerning.
I ask, does this show that the fatigue policy is not working, or does this show the psychological constraints that can be involved with a transient workforce, or both?
Whatever the reasons, unless there is a concerted approach, I believe this is only the beginning.