Maritime & Transport

Weighty challenges for heavy vehicle safety

The Chain of Responsibility and Heavy Vehicle Safety Conference, supported by the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport Association (CILTA), will be taking place on 3 & 4 December. This year the National Heavy Vehicle Laws have been rolled out, meaning a new rule book applies in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia regarding vehicle standards, fatigue management and chain of responsibility. If you’re involved in the chain of responsibility or heavy vehicle safety, join us for what will be an informative and interactive couple of days with industry leading speakers.

In advance of the conference we interviewed Inspector Phillip Brooks, NSW Police, Peter Wells, NSW Roads & Maritime Services, Andrew Petrie, Network Rail and Ray Hassall, NHVR. Red_B-double_truck

Inspector Phillip Brooks is the Heavy Vehicle Operations Manager for the Traffic & Highway Patrol Command, NSW Police Force, which coordinates the ‘Joint Heavy Vehicle Taskforce’ relationship with the NSW Roads & Maritime Services.  Inspector Brooks advised that a mixture of demand and compliance are key challenges for this industry: “There is great demand across the industry at present, where our focus will be on compliance for the benefit of road safety.”

A key issue facing heavy vehicle safety is that “maintenance standards appear to be poor, with high frequency vehicles and trailers often detected with major defects,” Inspector Brooks continued, “This suggests that regimes are being bypassed.  Whilst speed tampering has a focus, there are still those that continue to be detected which would indicate that there is some tolerance of this practice within the industry.  Recent Court actions against companies & drivers also reflect this position.”

Inspector Phillip Brooks will be giving a joint presentation with Paul Endycott, General Manager Compliance Operations Branch, NSW Roads & Maritime Services at the December Conference. He mentioned: ”Our joint enforcement approach has continued to deliver compliance benefits across some industry sectors.  There is now an opportunity to reach out even further for the benefit of road safety for all road users.  Our recent effort in public passenger buses reflects this position.”

We also spoke to Peter Wells, Customer, Compliance and Public Safety functions for NSW Roads and Maritime Services who underlined the importance of the new CoR laws. “They are important for Australia – it is efficient law that allows businesses to respond in ways that suit their operation. Over time this will lead to safer and more productive road freight movements.”  Peter continued: “While there is a long way to go, I think there are signs of improvements that are very encouraging. The big gap we see is that there must actually be ‘reasonable steps’ in place to prevent breaches of Road Transport law. We often find this is not sufficiently covered or is not in place at all.”

When asked about the key challenges for the industry going into next year, Peter stated: “Actual CoR implementation – to make sure people are taking up CoR within their organisations. Also the use of subcontractors and the dilution of supervision and management control – these contractors are effectively acting on behalf of the parent organisation and there can be subcontracting down 2 or 3 levels below the parent organisation with limited or nil oversight.”

At the CoR & Heavy Vehicle Safety Conference Peter is looking forward to the presentation from Ian Ross, Origin Energy: “It looks very interesting – going to the core of how to get CoR working well in a company.”

Andrew Petrie works for Network Rail Consulting, the international consultancy arm of Network Rail who own and operate the UK mainline railway. Having worked as Head of Safety for a number of major projects with Network Rail, Andrew is currently on assignment to Australia to help develop the business in the region and is working on a number of projects in Sydney, including the North West Rail Link.

Andrew will be giving an international perspective on how driver related fatigue is being tackled in the UK from the point of view of Network Rail, and also how the UK safety regulator and industry bodies are working together to help develop tools and guidance to help industry in general. Andrew shared with us: “The main issues that our organisation in the UK has identified with regards to vehicle safety are driver fatigue and the use of mobile phones, and hands free devices.   Within urban areas the issue of cycle safety is also a major issue with heavy vehicles being a factor in a significant number of accidents and fatalities to cyclists, particularly in central London.”

We asked Andrew what he was looking forward to at the conference in December and he replied: “I am keen to see what issues are facing operators in Australia and what solutions are being implemented such that I can feedback any lessons learnt to my colleagues in the UK to see if they can be applied to our fleet or even into our supply chain.”

Finally, we spoke to Ray Hassall at the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator who will be discussing chain of responsibility compliance and vehicle standards regulation at the conference. Ray has been involved in the development and implementation of transport policy, state and national, for about 20 years in both the road and rail sectors.

Ray told us he thinks the challenges are fairly constant: “Attracting and retaining skilled staff, integrating technology into operations, efficiently and effectively managing compliance.”

He added: “At the moment there is a clear focus on vehicle maintenance. The challenge will be to ensure this critical area is seen, and is seen by the community, to be properly managed.”

The CoR & Heavy Vehicle Safety Conference will run on 3 & 4 December 2014 at the Pullman Grand Quay Hotel in Sydney. Register now to receive the Earlybird booking price.

Please go here to read the full interviews with Inspector Phillip Brooks, Andrew Petrie, Ray Hassell and Peter Wells.

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