The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has warned operators of the importance of due diligence for all parties along the heavy vehicle supply chain following the successful prosecution of a national company for overloading.
The company was prosecuted for overloading a gravel truck 120 per cent above the statutory limit.
The loader manager and truck driver were casual employees, the South Australian Magistrates Court heard.
The company was fined $9,900 for a mass offence under the pre-October 1 Heavy Vehicle National Law. The maximum penalty for this offence is $55,000.
In his findings Magistrate Mark Semmens highlighted the lack of adequate corporate governance,
“In no way could this offending by the company be considered trifling or a technical breach,” Semmens finds.
“This is a case of wilful blindness and ‘hopefulness’ that was improper and falls far short of good corporate governance.
“It is a far more serious example of a typical offence, because there was absolutely no effort of compliance on the day of the offence by any person in the chain of responsibility.”
Magistrate Semmens pointed out once again the lack of compliance with legal and safety obligations when recording the conviction,
“I do not think this is a ‘basic’ case. It is an extraordinary case and what is extraordinary is the complete lack of any structure by a corporate body to ensure that a chain of reporting exists to ensure compliance with the legal and safety obligations cast upon it,” he writes.
The magistrate noted that the company had been requested 3 times in a five month period to have scales installed for the loader. These requests were not met, meaning that workers were just guessing when it came to loading the transport with the materials.
He described this case as “complete indifference” on the part of the company involved and its operators.
Due to the guilty plea, the company was given a 40 per cent discount on the penalty due. There was also significant evidence of remorse in corrective action taken, the magistrates noted.
These corrective measures included,
a review of its procedures
further training of their employees
ensuring a system of follow-ups rather than relying upon one system to ensure compliance
training, education, worksite meetings, internal audits
other administrative steps
back up procedure in place to make the company systems
scales for its loaders and all its trucks
contingency for back up vehicles which are similarly fitted with scales.
NHVR executive director statutory compliance Ray Hassall said the decision reinforced the importance of due diligence for all parties along the heavy vehicle supply chain.
He reiterated the responsibility of companies to ensure good loading practices, from executives to employees.
He stated that those at the top of the chain of responsibility have the most power to put in place the safety practices necessary.