DHL Express (UK) has escaped disciplinary action after a deputy traffic commissioner (TC) found it was not to blame for failing to notice that six drivers had created false tachograph records.
The operator was called to a public inquiry (PI) last year following the discovery of 253 false drivers’ hours records, which were committed by six agency drivers who worked on a double-manned route between its operating centre in Bellshill and East Midlands Airport.
A routine inspection by DVSA examiners in February 2016 discovered the drivers’ hours issues only arose on the two double-manned routes.
The drivers were employed by agency Global Logistics, and were contracted to work a 16-hour shift. They were issued with timesheets that they were required to complete in order to get paid.
The DVSA examiners found the start and finish times on the timesheets did not correspond with what the tachograph records claimed.
It emerged the drivers’ hours compliance system DHL Express (UK) was using had limitations in analysing double-manned journeys. It would recognise a double-manned journey if two driver cards had been inserted in the vehicle unit and if driver cards had been changed, but would not detect if a driver card had been removed over the course of the journey.
The company said it was unsure why drivers had chosen to delay the insertion of their cards into the second slot of the vehicle unit, when on most occasions there was no apparent reason to do so.
Deputy TC Richard McFarlane found there would have been nothing in the drivers’ hours reports to alert former transport manager Henry Dorricott about any shortcomings in drivers’ hours recording on the route. A more forensic analysis would have been required to pick up the offences, and were only found by a different system used by the DVSA.
The PI was told that since the investigation all six drivers had been blacklisted from working for any DHL company; compliance systems had been improved; and better lines of communication between all levels of management had been put into place. It has also introduced a new tachograph analysis system.
Dorricott also took immediate action after being made aware of the traffic examiners’ concerns, and rescheduled some aspects of the routes to ensure there was no danger of them resulting in hours breaches. DHL Express (UK) no longer undertakes double-manned journeys on this route.
The deputy TC determined that the timesheets could not be regarded as a true picture of the hours worked.
McFarlane said: “I am not persuaded that the six drivers or any of them were not involved in a scam to hide the hours by falsifying their records. Discrepancies between the analysed raw data and the timesheets are explained by drivers maximising their claims for pay.”
McFarlane took no action against the company and Dorricott. He said the confusion stemmed from the rule that allowed multi-manned shifts to begin with one driver, providing the second driver joins the truck within the first hour.
He said, aside from the former drivers’ hours analysis system, DHL Express (UK) had appropriate systems in place to ensure proper records were kept.