NZTA's seasonal reminder to help rural contractors


The NZ Transport Agency is reminding agricultural contractors they can again apply for a work time variation to complete critical agricultural operations this season.

The variation enables the completion of critical agricultural tasks including harvesting. An allowance is also made for tasks such as preparing for planting or spraying a crop.

This variation is available by application only and the NZTA will consider each application on its merits before making a decision.

The NZTA's regulatory systems manager Mark O'Donnell says the variation enables contractors to extend one or two work days within a cumulative work period, offset against working fewer hours over the following days.

"Work time restrictions are in place to protect against fatigue-related safety issues, but we know that during harvest periods there are times when contractors need flexibility to get the job done at the right time.

"The safety of staff and other road users remains the most important consideration. When work hours are extended the risk to safety increases. Employers must be aware of this increased risk and manage it carefully," Mr O'Donnell says.

Variations are valid for 12 months from the date of issue and apply to the drivers of specialist agricultural machines (including tractors) used in an agricultural operation, and to drivers of support vehicles (such as goods service vehicles) that are essential to the completion of an agricultural operation.

Examples of situations where they can be used include:

  • harvesting a crop before a predicted storm which is likely to lead to significant product loss;
  • spraying operations that can only be undertaken in the early morning or evening when there is little or no wind.

"The variation is not available for the transport of agricultural produce that is not a direct component of an agricultural operation. For example, a variation cannot be issued for moving stock, forestry or transporting milk," says Mr O'Donnell.

Work time restrictions and log book requirements are being considered as part of the Ministry of Transport's Agricultural Vehicle Review, announced recently. As a result of the feedback received so far, the key areas that are being looked at include:

  1. Work time restrictions and log book requirements
  2. Over-dimension and overweight vehicle restrictions
  3. Speed limits and driver licensing requirements
  4. Vehicle standards and inspection requirements
  5. The structure of the relevant transport laws

Industry stakeholders have also identified opportunities to improve road user safety.