A large European based logistics company was recently called to Public Inquiry due to issues relating to maintenance and prohibitions.
Their European based Solicitors, who we have worked with previously engaged our services along with a specialist UK Transport law firm.
Our Managing Director, Andy Miles attended the clients UK operation to carry out an Initial Audit to understand not only the day to day operations but the culture that had led to the initial failings and identify any other issues that had, to date, not been identified by the DVSA.
More issues than originally known
As a result of the audit, it became apparent that in addition to the known issues there was also:
- Incorrect advice given by the previous maintenance provider in relation to the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness, that exposed the operator to non-compliance.
- Repair work not being carried out by the maintenance provider when vehicles had been booked in for PMI and repairs.
- The new maintenance provider had given poor advice and ‘didn’t see the point in carrying out first use PMI’s because they are a main dealer and know what they are doing’.
- An Operating Centre was being used for more vehicles than its authorised amount due to an admin error by the operator.
- The Tachograph Analysis system was not fit for purpose.
- The Transport Manager had no support from the Directors.
- The Directors, who had acquired the company a few years ago, did not understand the UK Regulatory system for Operator Licensing and therefore were not complying with UK requirements.
A plan was drawn up and we started by training the CEO of the parent company with an Operator Licence Awareness Course, (OLAC), which A S Miles Consulting has provided to many Directors, CEO’s and COO’s of European and Global companies.
The Transport Manager then had a two day refresher training to close the gap in his knowledge and ensure that he knew his responsibilities.
Then Andy went to work on installing the systems and processes to ensure that Compliance was restored, and any slippage can be easily detected.
Andy worked with the Transport Manager and the Maintenance provider to correct the issues and remind the maintenance provider of their responsibilities. Andy’s advice was that if the provider was not going to work to the required standards then the company would find a provider who would. The Transport Manager also held and recorded minutes of the meeting held with the provider and has a plan for regular meeting throughout the year.
A new system from a market-leading provider gives all of the information required not just for day to day compliance but also to the standards of reporting for the DVSA Earned Recognition scheme.
An overworked Transport Manager
A mixture of issues surrounding Covid, remote working, a lack of integration of company-wide systems when the UK operation was acquired, and the lack of knowledge by the board, all led to the Transport Manager being overworked, which led to staff members and suppliers, such as maintenance, being trusted to do the right thing without closing the loop and checking.
Changes have already been put in place by the CEO to ensure the support and additional training is now in place.
The Public Inquiry and outcome
Due to the training and work carried out in putting the operation in a complaint position the operator went into the Inquiry knowing more about their legal responsibilities and their operation than they did when they received the calling in letter.
The Traffic Commissioner was also pleased to see the companies CEO and not just the Transport Manager attend the Public Inquiry, as it showed how seriously the company took their responsibilities.
After serious consideration, the Traffic Commissioner was satisfied that the correct steps had been taken to address the issues and that assurance from the CEO would be carried out. Both the Company and the Transport Manager were given formal warnings about the need for full compliance in the future.
Lessons to learn
A remote operation is not an abandoned operation.
The responsibilities for Compliance start at the top and run through the company. Are Board members as well as Transport Managers aware of their responsibilities?
Challenge your suppliers, meet them and audit them to ensure they meet YOUR standards or move to one that does.
Put systems in place so that they are easy to follow and prove you have done your job with making sure compliance is planned not an accident.