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Only a "superhuman" could have worked the hours a long-distance truck driver did in the days before he died when his semitrailer crashed on the Pacific Highway, the NSW Industrial Relations Commission heard yesterday.
Darri Haynes, 37, had less than five hours' sleep between midnight and 6am in the two days before the accident near Grafton on September 1, 1999, contravening regulations, a fatigue expert told the commission.
Mr Haynes would have been "extremely fatigued", given his gruelling schedule, and this would have played a "major role" in the accident, the expert said.
WorkCover is prosecuting trucking owner Jim Hitchcock in a test case that could turn the state's roads and highways into a workplace.
In the first case in NSW of its kind under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, Mr Hitchcock is charged with failing to ensure the health and safety of his employee, and failing to ensure that others on the road were not put at risk.
His employee, Mr Haynes, was killed when the semitrailer he was driving crashed. An autopsy of his liver found traces of the methamphetamine ice.
Ann Williamson, of the NSW Injury Risk Management Research Centre at the University of NSW, told the commission "his work-rest patterns in the three days before the crash clearly contravened the working hours regulations."
WorkCover has alleged Mr Hitchcock failed to ensure that drivers took sufficient rest stops or that rosters adequately took into account the effects of fatigue. He denies the charges.
The hearing continues.
By Natasha Wallace
February 6, 2004
This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/02/05/1075854002868.html
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