Check your O-licence is correct, or face the consequences

A transport lawyer has reminded operators to ensure that their O-licence, and the O-licences held by their subcontractors, are in the correct name or they could be putting their licence at risk of revocation.

Andrew Woolfall, solicitor at Backhouse Jones, told delegates at the law firm’s recent transport law seminar to ensure that the operator’s name is correct on their O-licence discs, and on the trucks operated by firms they subcontract work to. The O-licence disc should be in the company’s registered name, or have the correct names of the partners involved if the business is a partnership or sole trader.

He warned O-licence discs can sometimes be in entirely the wrong name which invalidates the O-licence.

The lawyer also said the traffic commissioners (TCs) have been getting very particular about partnership changes in recent months, and are cracking down on operators who have a partner leave the business, but do not change the names listed on their O-licence. He highlighted instances where partnerships have for years continued to hold O-licences in the names of deceased partners or partners who left the business, despite their children or other family members taking over.

“If one leaves, the partnership does not continue, unless there is a particular deed stating otherwise,” added Woolfall.

Care should also be taken to ensure that the O-licence is in the correct name for companies that have been bought, or have bought another operator. Woolfall warned that some businesses still use O-licences issues to the former company, despite this company being dormant for a number of years. “The TCs are noticing,” he added.

Woolfall dispelled the myth that subsidiaries do not have to hold their own O-licence if the parent company has a large enough authorisation to accommodate the subsidiary’s fleet as well as its own.

Lending O-licences to sister companies and subsidiaries is something the TCs are particularly hot on and will revoke a firm’s O-licence if there are concerns about who is controlling the vehicles and drivers. Recent cases include AA Young, which had its O-licence suspended and curtailed for lending its licence to an applicant company; and David Brown Transport, which relinquished control of its vehicles to others.

“It has to be very clearly documented if you’re going to get into these arrangements,” said Woolfall, urging operators to seek advice if it is something they are thinking of doing. “If you want to lend discs, you must demonstrate you can still control the vehicles and drivers.”

Sita UK fined £200,000 after worker hit by vehicle

Recycling firm Sita UK has been fined £200,000 with £11,998 costs after a worker was struck by a moving vehicle, leaving him unlikely to return to work in the near future.

On 13 October Preston Crown Court was told that an employee was hit by a 7.5 tonne telehandler at a waste transfer site in Darwen, Lancashire.

While walking across an outside plastics hand sorting area, the unnamed employee passed behind a stationary telehandler.

However, the vehicle began to reverse while he was still in the vicinity and knocked him to the ground.

He was run over by the rear wheels of the vehicle, and remained in hospital for other two months while recovering from his injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), prosecuting, told the court that Sita UK, which has now been rebranded Suez, had failed to put in place suitable measures to stop pedestrians being hit by moving vehicles, despite having identified the risks.

The company, of Grenfell Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, pleaded guilty to beaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

HSE inspector Stuart Kitchingman said: “Employers need to look carefully at their workplaces regularly to make sure that pedestrian routes are clearly marked and physically separated from vehicle routes wherever possible.

“The employee could have easily been killed and still has severe mobility problems as a result of the accident. He is unlikely to be able to work in the near future.”