Reports that petrol tankers breached vehicle standards requirements following a recent petrol tanker explosion in NSW is a huge wake-up call to all SME business owners managing their own delivery fleets. By Walter Scremin.
Any business that runs its own fleet, whether running b-doubles or vans, cannot cut corners on vehicle maintenance. This is urgent for all fleets, particularly those delivering hazardous materials and refrigerated transport. Every fleet owner must ask a simple question: Are we complying with all vehicle standards requirements? Many will be alarmed at what they find in their own organisation, and will need to take urgent action to reduce their exposure to risk.
Business owners are often too busy taking care of business to keep up to date with maintenance and new compliance. They may not be aware of any breach until it is too late. Regardless, letting business get on top of you is no excuse for putting people’s lives in danger.
The National Truck Accident Research Centre’s 2013 major accident investigation report found that fire and mechanical failure cause more serious crashes on Australian roads than driver fatigue. Fleet managers and business owners must be vigilant, and understand the price for cutting corners – if there is an accident and the vehicle is found to have not been properly maintained, they could be liable.
They might find insurance claims are rejected in part or in full because they cannot prove proper maintenance. Prosecutions are possible for breaches of vehicle standards and chain of responsibility legislation. If they are found breaking the law, then the people responsible may be personally fined and in the worst cases imprisoned.
Business owners must also appreciate that they may be putting staff at risk of injury: It’s worrying that road freight transport is considered the fourth highest risk industry of WorkCover claims by WorkCover Authority of NSW (based on total claims, gross incurred cost, incidence rates and qualitative analysis).
There is no room for compromise on safety.
Walter Scremin is General Manager of national transport & logistics company Ontime Group.
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