A plant and tool hire firm has been banned from operating HGVs for a year after a traffic commissioner (TC) described its vehicle maintenance procedures as one of the worst he had seen.
West Midlands TC Nick Denton said Bushbury Plant and Tool Hire had operated trucks in an “appalling condition” and had completely failed in its duty to ensure drivers’ hours and tachograph rules were adhered to.
Its O-licence will be revoked on 30 January. Denton also disqualified its transport manager for two years and director Wayne Harper was disqualified from holding or obtaining an O-licence for 12 months.
The DVSA found a series of failings at the Wolverhampton-based business when it conducted an investigation last year, which was triggered after the issue of an S-marked prohibition for five loose wheel nuts across two wheels; an inoperative indicator; brake pipe issues and an oil leak.
The examiner found that its driver defect reporting system was not effective; maintenance inspections were not being carried out at the intervals required; the MoT pass rate was poor and transport manager Nathan Bartlett did not have the required level of control over the business’s transport activities.
Safety inspection records supplied at a public inquiry (PI) earlier this month showed that it was frequently unclear if action had been taken following the discovery of a vehicle defect. Some defects were repeatedly identified, such as inoperative brakes, loose body bolts, and heavy oil leaks.
“The safety inspection reports reveal that on almost every occasion, the vehicles were submitted in a thoroughly unroadworthy condition, with bald tyres, non-functioning mandatory lights, loose body bolts and oil leaks,” said the TC in his written decision.
Equipment to download digital tachographs had only just been purchased; vehicles had not been or had been incorrectly specified on its O-licence; and drivers were failing to carry out defect checks effectively.
The firm said drivers were unlikely to commit drivers’ hours breaches due to the nature of its work, but Denton found a “significant” infringement in the print-outs it supplied.
It emerged that Bartlett did not have a proper contract in place to confirm his role as a transport manager, and had not fulfilled his responsibility to continuously and effectively manage the transport side of the business.
The TC said Bartlett was largely an “absentee transport manager”.
“He was paid a pittance that reflected the fact that he was not expected to do any meaningful work,” said Denton.
“He has clearly failed to supervise drivers’ hours compliance or ensure effectiveness of driver defect reporting,” he added.
The company admitted that a radical improvement plan was required in order to improve compliance, but pointed to two recent first-time MoT passes as evidence that things were improving.
“Road safety has been seriously jeopardised,” added Denton. “This is one of the worst maintenance cases I have ever seen.”