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TMS Consulting: working to ensure a safer drive-in/drive-out workforce

Road_200Over the past eight years in Australia, over 2,000 people have lost their lives due to work-related factors. Almost two-thirds of these worker fatalities involved a vehicle accident.

Vehicle incidents are by far the most common cause of work-related deaths in Australia. These crashes result in immeasurable human suffering and impose a significant financial burden on employers, workers and the community.

A major concern expressed in a recent parliamentary inquiry related to the use of mobile and drive-in/drive-out (DIDO) workforces in local communities. Whilst acknowledging the important role of DIDO workforces in the growth of pipeline and resources projects in the nation the inquiry made note of the rising accident and death toll on roads in DIDO regions (such as the Bowen Basin) and the subsequent reduction in community safety.1

In a recent investigation by TMS it was discovered that high risk for fatigue-related vehicle accidents was apparent in the resources sector due to the long working hours, long commute times, and lack of sufficient sleep. Similar findings were noted in another study focusing on a DIDO workforce in the Bowen Basin which discovered that the percentage of DIDO workers falling asleep while driving to commence work was up to 13 per cent for dayshift workers and up to 23 per cent for night shift workers.2

In ensuring the health and safety of workers it is important reinforce to companies that the workplace does not start and finish at their front gate. Safety legislation identifies vehicles as an extension of the workplace and employers m

4 ust consider these hazards. In many cases vehicles and mobile plant are the greatest source of safety risk to companies.

TMS works with companies to ensure they meet their legal and ethical duties to manage the health and safety of workers.

TMS utilises a scientifically validated methodology to conduct safety risk assessments and management, legal compliancy audits and to embed lasting cultural change. For example, an assessment of the safety management system and processes could include reviewing or implementing:

  • Safety critical tasks, task hazard analyses, standard operating procedures and the risk register;
  • Hazard, incident and near-miss reporting systems;
  • Electronic employee attendance systems to limit excessive work hours and overtime;
  • Assessment of HR and OHS records for trends in vehicle-related risks;
  • Journey management systems;
  • In-vehicle monitoring systems;
  • Training and education programs for safe driving practices and fatigue management;
  • Shift work schedules using sophisticated mathematical software;
  • Random drug and alcohol testing of workers;
  • Auditing and quality assurance procedures; and,
  • Sleep disorder screening in high-risk workers and drivers (if deemed beneficial).

Risk management relies on the effective identification of hazards – what you do not know cannot be prevented or mitigated. Failure to manage safety risks so far as is reasonably practical can be in contravention of legal and ethical OHS duties and therefore company risks need to be addressed in a systematic manner.

This article was based on the white paper Road Safety and Mobile Workforces and was featured in Pipeliner Magazine.


  1. House of Representatives. (2013). Cancer of the bush or salvation for our cities? Fly-in, fly-out and drive-in, drive-out workforce practices in Regional Australia. Inquiry into the use of ‘fly-in, fly-out’ (FIFO) workforce practices in regional Australia. Parliament of Australia. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  2. Di Milia, L., & Bowden, B. (2007). Unanticipated safety outcomes: Shiftwork and drive-in, drive-out workforce in Queensland’s Bowen Basin. Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources, 45, 100.

TMS Consulting helps organisations to assess, develop, embed, and evaluate their fatigue risk management systems, and to provide tailored and targeted fatigue training. The TMS difference is that we can advise you on how to engage your employee’s heart and minds to hardwire the safety culture change. Contact TMS on 07 3003 1473 to discuss how we can work with you to achieve your desired fatigue management outcomes.




About the author

Jo Bagg