West Midlands traffic commissioner (TC) Nick Denton has warned the industry that hauliers who do not give full attention to compliance are at risk of losing their repute.
Nothing, he said, is more important in haulage than ensuring vehicles operate legally and safely.
Denton made his remarks after he disqualified a director and transport manager for three years for a string of safety issues – ruling that their excuses for failing to address concerns were “unacceptable”.
James Ginelly and Keith Slinn told the TC that all their energy had been focused on keeping their company, JAG Distribution, trading. This was why they had failed to check a driver’s licence or monitor drivers’ hours properly.
When the DVSA carried out a roadside check on one of JAG’s vehicles in August the examiner found the driver not wearing his seatbelt, carrying a load that had not been properly secured, unable to show evidence of holding the driver CPC, and having committed several breaches of the 4.5 hours driving rule.
He was also driving without a tacho card inserted into the unit and his driving licence had expired 12 months earlier.
A follow up investigation found that the operator had never downloaded vehicle tachograph units, there were no driver infringement report or effective checks on driver entitlement, one vehicle had been used without an MOT for three months, and an unauthorized operating centre in Nuneaton was in use.
At the Public Inquiry the company director and his transport manager said they had taken a mechanic’s word about the vehicle found to be without an MOT and had not checked documentation. They had not applied for the new operating centre as it was known the firm would be entering liquidation.
The TC also found, from maintenance records produced at the inquiry, that safety inspection sheets failed to record tyre tread depths and a brake test. The transport manager admitted that he did not know what kind of brake test, if any, the mechanic was carrying out.
The TC said: “For the avoidance of doubt, even if the company had not entered liquidation, the serious nature of the other findings and almost complete lack of positive factors are such as would have caused me not to accord any period of grace in which to re-establish financial standing or nominate a new transport manager.”
Both the director Ginelly and transport manager Slinn were disqualified for three years. Slinn also lost his good repute and the company's O-licence has been revoked.