Staff and students who drive in remote locations must be aware that they place themselves in a situation where they are exposed to higher than normal levels of risk.
These procedures establish administrative and safety and health arrangements for the conduct of driving in locations classified as "remote" and for the driving of vehicles over long distances or off-road. The procedure is based upon current practices observed within the University as well as those commonly used in other Commonwealth and State Government authorities.
- School responsibilities
- Drivers' responsibilities
- Administrative arrangements
- Clothing and safety equipment
- First aid equipment
- Driving for extended periods or in remote areas
- Appendix 1: Recommended equipment for field work in remote locations
For the purpose of these procedures, the following definitions apply:
- Remote Work: defined both in terms of distance and inaccessibility as any work carried out at any non-permanently staffed University site and which entails:
- working more than 10km from a frequently trafficked road, farmhouse or other facility with telephone or radio communications
- off-road in areas including river, inland waterways and estuarine locations where very little traffic is likely or where topographic features would make it difficult to summon help either from a farm or town
- Off Road: any location other than a major or minor formed road.
- 4WD: Vehicle with dual range Four Wheel Drive capability configured to meet the drivers licence class (Auto/Manual)
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The Head of School is ultimately responsible for ensuring:
- the driver has an appropriate and current drivers licence (domestic or international)
- the driver has completed either the approved four-wheel-drive course or has undertaken a similar accredited course if off-road or remote work is to be undertaken
- meeting the cost of any overnight accommodation for staff, in cases which require valid additional or unscheduled overnight stops
- each University vehicle has a log book which is completed by the driver for every trip
- vehicle users are aware of the procedures for working in remote locations, prior to departure on any trip
- the roadworthiness of all vehicles at all times, including any hire vehicles.
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Please refer to Driver Safety Guidelines for specific driver responsibilities and checks to be carried out prior to departure and during trips.
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- A risk assessment of the work to be undertaken during the field trip should be carried out prior to departure. The nature of the work and the experience of the staff or students attending the field trip should be considered. In many cases it will be unsafe for people to be working alone. If it is considered safe to be working alone, suitable communication sources, equipment, survival supplies and first aid will required to ensure adequate safety levels.
- Completion of the one day approved four-wheel-drive course is recommended for staff and students who wish to undertake a field trip involving remote work or the use of a four-wheel-drive vehicle. No other personnel are authorised to drive except in an emergency and this should be entered in a log book.
- Local rules or modified procedures particularly appropriate to the School but consistent with this policy may be developed. Agreed rules must be complied with and personnel who deliberately expose themselves or others to risk by non-compliance are to be counselled and if necessary excluded from field work.
- Trip plans shall be submitted to the School for approval by field trip leaders prior to undertaking field work and basic details provided shall include:
- a log book of prior vehicle inspections and the supplementary safety equipment. This should be signed by a senior administration or technical officer and kept in a secure location at the beginning and end of each trip. (This applies to University-owned vehicles only.)
- time and date of departure
- expected time and date of return
- major roads/towns to be covered "en route"
- approximate work area (map or grid reference)
- names of all staff and students in group
- any agreed radio or telephone call-in schedules.
- Given travel plans are often submitted for approval well in advance of the actual trip (weeks/months), it is advised that the communication / travel plans are reviewed immediately prior to departure. If there are changes to contacts, or minor changes to locations then these should be reflected in the plan.
- Notification of local authorities of where you intend to be, for how long and when you will contact them again. It is also important that you provide your contact details (Sat phone) and provide updates should circumstances change.
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An appropriate type of vehicle is to be supplied for field work
- Four- wheel drive vehicles should be used for all off road-situations including where rough unsealed roads, or rugged terrain and variable soft soil conditions may be encountered.
- Two wheel drive use on standard (well-formed and maintained) gravel roads needs to be assessed by the School during trip planning. Should an unforeseen circumstance arise during the trip the driver must also assess the risk accordingly.
All four-wheel drive vehicles used for field work should be equipped with the following:
- a diesel engine
- a steel bull-bar capable of being used as a jacking point and of supporting at least 2/3rds of the weight of the vehicle
- a rear bumper bar capable of being used in a similar manner to the bull-bar
The following items are strongly recommended for inclusion as vehicle equipment:
- driving lights (spot lights)
- long range water and fuel tanks
- cargo crash barriers.
Where vehicles are to be used off-road or in remote locations, appropriate spare parts, tools, recovery equipment and adequate supplies of emergency rations and water must be carried. (A comprehensive list of these items is included in Appendix 1). These items are to be checked in a log book prior to departure, with the log book to be held by the school senior administrative or technical officer.
Field work may be cancelled if a suitable vehicle is not made available.
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All vehicles for remote field work must be fitted with a two-way radio or satellite telephone with frequencies which include those of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and other appropriate Federal and State Government authorities.
All personnel undertaking field work must be trained in the use of the communication equipment and liase with local authorities as outlined above.
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Clothing and safety equipment
The appropriate kind of safety equipment and clothing of an occupational nature needed for the field trip should be dictated by experience and common sense.
Where requested, the School/Section must provide staff the necessary special items as part of their management and legal responsibility to provide a safe place of work and a safe system of work for employees. For outdoor work this may include the provision of hats, sunscreen, field boots and other clothing to protect against harsh climatic conditions which may be encountered. Students must provide their own protective clothing. The School/Section may provide sunscreen and insect repellent.
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All people who participate in remote field work should be reasonably fit and have no existing medical conditions which could reasonably be expected to give rise to a life-threatening situation. If anyone is taking regular medication it is vital that adequate supplies are carried on the trip.
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First aid equipment
Field work locations are University workplaces as defined within Safety and Health legislation and as such compliance with relevant regulations is required.
Regulations which concern first aid require an employer to provide for every 25 people or part thereof, a dust-proof first aid box or cabinet stocked with such medical supplies as are appropriate for treating injuries caused or likely to be caused to people, having regard to the work being carried out. In addition at least one person must have control of the use of the contents of the first aid box or cabinet.
For field trips the box or cabinet should be portable, light, compact and durable as it may have to survive and remain sterile in adverse conditions, and it should be stored carefully in the vehicle to prevent damage and be readily accessible. Such equipment is to be supplied by the relevant School/Section, and the condition of such equipment is to be monitored and a log kept.
A person trained in first aid should be included as a member of each field trip group. A first aid kit should only be seen as supplementary to the essential requirements of training in first aid for field trip personnel and reliable 24-hour communication facilities.
The School/Section should encourage relevant staff and students to attend first aid training on a regular basis. First aid courses can be arranged via the School/Section or Safety and Health.
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Driving for extended periods or in remote areas
Where this type of driving is to be undertaken, the following should be observed:
- No more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period should be taken up with driving. The total time spent travelling, inclusive of breaks, should not exceed 12 hours, even where the driving is shared.
- Regular breaks must be taken at least every two hours to walk and stretch (note driving can be shared between multiple authorised drivers).
- Ordinary duty (which does not involve driving duty) combined with driving duty shall not exceed 12 hours in any period of 24 hours.
- Alcohol shall not be consumed or prescription drugs which may affect the ability to drive safely, eight hours prior to working or during the period of the journey by any person involved with driving duties.
- The distance which can reasonably be covered during the space of a day's driving will be also be governed by:
- driver fatigue
- legal speed limits
- climatic conditions and weather
- the type of vehicle used.
- The general wellbeing of the driver, in particular fatigue, is paramount and takes precedence over agreed guidelines particularly when the driver is subject to fatigue.
- The time at which the journey is to be undertaken, its duration and the distance to be covered shall be reasonable in the circumstances and be planned in advance.
- Provision shall be made for regular and adequate rest breaks to avoid driver fatigue.
- If the driver has to perform duty immediately before or after the official journey, the duration of the journey shall be limited accordingly.
- Wherever practicable more than one driver shall travel in vehicles, especially where all or part of the journey is to be undertaken in isolated areas or under arduous climatic conditions.
- There should be no likelihood that the undertaking of any particular journey will result in unusual risks.
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Appendix 1: Recommended equipment for field work in remote locations