John Halls, an RACV roadside assistance driver, tragically died in March 2018 after crashing his car into a tree. Halls had been working a grueling 96-hour shift at the time of the accident, leaving him fatigued and too tired to sleep. Despite being prescribed sleeping pills to help him unwind after work, the dangerous shift patterns took a toll on his well-being.
The lack of proper training on fatigue management and the absence of guidelines regarding maximum shift lengths and minimum breaks contributed to Halls’ death. YJ Autos, Halls’ employer and a contractor for RACV, failed to provide adequate processes and training in this regard. Their only performance indicator was to respond to 90 percent of the calls within an hour.
Halls and another driver were allowed to set their own work hours and shift patterns. They had adopted a four days on, four days off schedule, during which they would receive an average of 40 callouts at any time of the day or night. The drivers even slept with multiple phones and a roadside assistance alert system beside them.
YJ Autos, under the management of Brooke Hampton, pleaded guilty to two breaches of workplace health and safety legislation on behalf of the company. The court acknowledged that Hampton had inherited the existing work schedule and that the negligence resulting in Halls’ death was not due to her indifference to employee safety.
Halls’ tragic accident occurred on his way home after helping two individuals stranded due to a car breakdown. His wife discovered the crash scene while searching for him, as he had been unreachable on the phone. Halls’ family takes solace in the fact that he died while serving the community, which was his passion.
RACV was convicted and fined $475,000 for failing to ensure that contractors effectively managed fatigue risks. YJ Autos will face sentencing at a later date.