On the 19th of August the NHVR released its first ever Safety & Compliance Alert off the back of the BP fuel tanker tragedy in country Victoria on 7th August, which we reported here
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has pre-empted any official findings on the fatal Wodonga tanker trailer crash for safety reasons.
Two women and a boy died when a four-axle dog tanker trailer decoupled from a BP towing truck near Wodonga two weeks ago.
The NHVR was heavily involved in coordinating a safety audit of BP’s fleet nationally in the aftermath.
Now the regulator has issued its first safety and compliance alert to industry following the early observations of crash investigators.
“Investigators have established that, in this case, the thread on the nut and the rear of the bolt has failed,” the alert says.
“The tow eye bolt has pulled out from the tow eye housing (block) on the drawbar of the trailer.”
ATA NSW also commented on the release in a newsletter to its members saying:
The alert offers important and practical advice for operators working with dog trailers, pig trailers and road train dollies, with a particular focus on assuring the integrity of the tow eye coupling on these vehicles.
NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto stressed that the investigation into the fatal crash is still being led by Victoria Police, and that the NHVR was providing the advice without comment as to any contributory cause to the collision.
“Our safety and compliance alert outlines the facts so far and identifies issues for operators to consider should they undertake inspections,” he said.
“As a national Regulator, we are very aware that safety doesn’t stop at the border.”
You can download the NHVR Safety and Compliance Alert 1/2014 [PDF] and read the recommendations.
It seems interesting that this Alert is fairly mildly worded. Some of the suggestions are:
“Consider whether your maintenance system will detect any looseness in the fitting of a tow eye.”
“consider whether you would voluntarily fit supplementary chains (safety chains) to heavy trailer drawbars.”
“Consider”? Should the NHVR go further and word this more strongly, especially seeing as ordinary domestic trailers are required to have supplementary chains, and as we saw with the recent disaster, the implication of a four axle dog tanker trailer coming loose are far more severe than a 6X4 trailer on the way to the tip on a Sunday afternoon!
The preliminary findings indicate the mechanism that failed was related to the tow eye bolt and the tow eye housing.
The trailer was connected to the towing truck by a tow eye bolt, which connected to an auto-tow coupler on the truck
The NHVR Alert states that:
Investigators have established that, in this case, the thread on the nut and the rear of the bolt has failed.
The tow eye bolt has pulled out from the tow eye housing (block) on the drawbar of the trailer.
What should the implications be for maintenance and truck trailer fittings be in the wake of this?
What do you think? we’d love to hear from you! Drop a comment on our Facebook page.