Logistics Company Receives $88,500 Fine for Breaches Committed Three Years Prior
Transport companies that think they can escape their past breaches should consider the fate of a logistics provider who was recently sentenced to a hefty penalty for compliance breaches discovered over three years ago.
Historic dangerous goods compliance breaches have cost the logistics provider a hefty $88,500.
The New South Wales Land and Environment Court decided last week that the company would have to pay the amount in fines and legal costs, after the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and NSW Police conducted a joint agency heavy vehicle compliance operation near Lithgow in November 2011, identifying the breaches.
According to the EPA, the company was cooperative throughout the investigations and since then have also implemented the necessary measures to ensure that it complied with its obligations under the dangerous goods legislation.
Mark Gifford, the EPA chief environmental regulator was quoted in a post on Fullyloaded.com.au saying that all parties associated with loading and transporting of dangerous goods must ensure they comply with Dangerous Goods (Road and Rail Transport) Act 2008. The post goes on to quote Mr Gifford,
“Everybody from the driver, through to the vehicle owner and the transporter have a responsibility to ensure that dangerous goods are loaded, stored and transported safely and legally,” Gifford adds.
“This is not only a legal requirement but also a social responsibility when flammable and dangerous goods are being transported on public roads.”
Apparently EPA officers inspected a truck travelling from Sydney to Bathurst and Orange while transporting 3900kg of mixed classes of dangerous good when one of their officers identified a number of non-compliance issues.
Some of the issues identified were:
“incompatible dangerous goods, unrestrained dangerous goods including 18 200-litre drums of flammable liquids, a failure to placard the load and a failure to have the necessary personal protection equipment and prescribed fire extinguisher.”
Officers prohibited the heavy vehicle from leaving until all the problems identified were corrected. The EPA also took legal action against all three of the involved parties thereafter, including the logistics company, the driver and truck owner.
The logistics company was responsible for loading the truck and transporting dangerous goods in the vehicle, the driver for driving a non-compliant load and the vehicle’s owners, NJA transport. The driver and owner received convictions in local courts in 2013 and were fined $800 and $10,000 respectively.
Since the incident, the company implemented a number of improvements, which it detailed to the court. These are the measures taken to improve dangerous goods practice and procedures by the company since the 2011 incident,
appointment of dangerous goods coordinators in all branches
annual dangerous goods audits with a view to a more regular audit program
checklist for all relevant vehicles
training for 258-374 employees between 2011 and last year with on-line refresher courses from last year
relevant computer system enhancements; use of external consultants.
What is particularly evident from this incident is that everyone involved in the supply chain will be held liable for their actions and if those actions include contributing to breaches in compliance, they will be prosecuted.
To make sure you and your company don’t suffer the same fate you need to be aware of what your obligations are. Find out more about your responsibilities here.