Visy, the biggest trucking customer in Australia has commented on its Adelaide warehouse queuing shuffle issues which led to chain of responsibility fatigue concerns being raised by trucking industry website ATN.
The warehouse queue concerns were raised after it was discovered that trucks were queuing for hours on end to access the Visy Gepps Cross Facility in Adelaide, some for as many as 9 or 12 hours.
In an article on Fullyloaded.com.au the company responded to suggestions that its chain of responsibility compliance was in question by denying their responsibility under COR regulations.
Other companies should learn from this incident about the importance of chain of responsibility compliance because it applies not only to operators and drivers but to customers, consignees, consignors, schedulers and anyone involved in the road freight industry, as much as some large customers may deny their roles.
Visy is the largest privately owned company in Oz, so its distribution centre is probably much busier than others but given its size, issues relating to its distribution centre and scheduling should have been pre-empted as you would expect such a large company to have better organisation.
Recently it was revealed on Fullyloaded.com.au that truck drivers were queuing for hours to unload freight at Visy’s Gepps Cross warehouse in Adelaide’s industrial north because there are apparently no specific time-slots. This means that truckies are seen to on a first come, first serve basis. ATN (Also known as www.Fullyloaded.comau) suggested that this lack of a proper system was contributing to breaches in the Chain of Responsibility fatigue management requirements.
ATN highlighted that this disorderly warehouse situation was the opposite of what interstate truckies were being subjected to at the giant 24/7 Visy pulp and paper mill operation on the Snowy Mountains Highway near Tumut in NSW where drivers have access to a large parking area, toilet, shower, coffee and kitchen facilities. They also get one telephone call when it’s their turn to go in.
The following concerning response from Visy was posted on ATN’s website:
Recognising our role within the context of the Chain of Responsibility and in order to facilitate improved driver and vendor practices, Visy has recently re-engineered and re-aligned its entire national subcontractor network. Integral to this process has been:
The alignment and ‘partnering’ with selected vendors who are willing to work with Visy, pro-actively, in the resolution of both micro and macro issues
The formal engagement of ‘vendors’ through SLA’s (service level agreements) and the incorporation of specific obligations pertaining to Chain of Responsibility, code of practice and legal compliance
The alignment of ‘Vendors’, services and home depots.
Drivers arriving and waiting outside of normal site operating hours, when the site is unmanned, should be using truck stops, home depots or demarcated rest areas en-route. These facilities are readily available and it is incumbent on the driver to ensure that they use them.
The company goes on to state that during their working hours the trucks are co-ordinated through the site in a way that complies with their OHS&E policies.
The article goes on to describe how despite referring to a code of practice which it supposedly subscribes to, Visy, a member of the Retail Logistics Supply Chain Code of Practice, administered by the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) had not had its Adelaide Gepps Cross Facility audited by the ALC under the code.
Several drivers were interviewed, some of whom said they had sometimes taken up to twelve hours to shuffle down the line and get unloaded at the facility after arriving in the morning
The following quotes from drivers sums up the situation aptly and highlights why something needs to be done to ensure the health and safety of drivers in situations like these:
“It’s appalling,” one truck driver who has been a regular at the Visy warehouse for a couple of years says.
“Consideration for the drivers doesn’t exist. If I have to go to Visy at Adelaide I just expect to lose a day.”
Another driver says: “It’s against chain of responsibility or whatever, but what’s the point of the whole thing if chain of responsibility just isn’t policed?”