Earlier this month, two drivers returned positive drug tests and 62 defect notices were issued when a joint heavy vehicle taskforce ‘Operation Capicure’ descended on the Coles distribution centre at Eastern Creek, Sydney.
It was the third investigation at Coles distribution centres in the past 18 months after complaints of overloaded trucks, driver fatigue mismanagement and load restraint issues.
This recent ‘bust’ by Roads and Maritime Services heavy vehicle inspectors and NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Command officers detected “systemic failures in heavy vehicle safety and compliance”.
Roads and Maritime Director Safety and Compliance Peter Wells said more than 60 officers attended Eastern Creek distribution centre. He said: “we are [still] seeing the same poor practices,” Mr Wells said.
“As part of the operation two men detected positive readings for being under the influence of a prohibited drug, more than 29 load restraint issues were identified and 62 defect notices were issued.”
No effective checks and balances “It seems from today’s results that no effective checks and balances are in place to ensure loads are safely secured or associated risks minimised.
“As one of the largest distributors in the country managing the movement of thousands of trucks every day, these results are unacceptable and compromise safety on the road network,” Mr Wells added.
He said it was important that all distributors had the right systems in place to manage the risk of increased heavy vehicle movements leading up to Christmas.
The taskforce was to meet with Coles executive directors to demand a “vast improvement in compliance levels and safety”.
“We call on top management and the Board Directors to step in and ensure there is rapid cultural change to ensure legal compliance with the requirements for heavy vehicle safety.”
Mr Wells said company directors could be held criminally responsible for the kind of breaches inspectors discovered at the Coles centre on Thursday.
Fines for non-compliance exceed $10,000 for individuals, and can be more than $50,000 per offence for freight companies.
“Safety is our highest priority and will continue working with industry to ensure compliance levels can be lifted and systemic safety failures are stamped out.”
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