Container forum aims to improve results of Operation Steel

26 October 2012

Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) held a forum with members of the heavy vehicle container industry this week to improve safety and compliance within the industry.

"About 65 industry representatives attended the workshop on Wednesday 24 October which was held in conjunction with NSW Police and Sydney Ports to promote safe transport of road container freight," Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) Director Customer and Compliance Peter Wells said.

"Raising awareness about the need for better load restraint of the container and its contents, speed limiter and speeding compliance and fatigue management were key discussions at the workshop.

"The industry was asked to recognise the importance of all participants in the chain of responsibility playing their part in the safe loading of containers and maintenance of roadworthy vehicles.

"Heavy vehicle drivers and vehicle owners themselves are badly affected by incidents involving containers and should be working with RMS and NSW Police to ensure greater levels of compliance from others in the chain of responsibility.

NSW Police also addressed the forum about their on going enforcement operations and the prevalence of heavy vehicle operators driving under the influence of illicit drugs.

"One of the key aims of the workshop was to change the apparent industry culture which believes it is safe to leave loads unrestrained in containers,” Mr Wells said.

"The dramatic and costly result of such an incident was demonstrated in July when a container carrying unrestrained scrap metal fell from a truck spewing more than 9 tonnes of rolled wire on to the road and causing significant damage to Tom Uglys Bridge.”

Mr Wells urged workshop participants to practice the safe transport of road container freight to reduce fatalities and safety incidents.

Operation Steel was initiated after several safety incidents and fatalities on the roads.  The operation found a concerning level of non-compliance in the industry with both containers and the heavy vehicles carrying them.

During Operation Steel RMS inspectors found trucks leaving Port Botany with unsecured loads and in one instance a container truck had its load secured by just one locking pin, instead of the four required.

"It was also very disappointing to find defect rates above 40 per cent during the operation, demonstrating there is not enough professionalism and respect for basic safety and the law.

"All owners need to ensure they maintain their trucks in good condition as required by law and RMS and Police will increase their enforcement focus until there is a strong fall in this defect rate,” Mr Wells said.

"The industry needs to address its culture of tolerating non compliance among some operators and we thank those operators who are taking a leadership role in engaging on this important issue. 

"Discussions highlighted the safety and productivity outcome improvements which could be achieved with close co operation between RMS, NSW Police and the container transport industry.”

Mr Wells told the workshop it is unfair defective vehicles which can be dangerous are competing with the safe and compliant operators and congratulated those within the industry who had taken steps to increase compliance and safety.

Mr Wells said in his repeated experience operators and businesses who abided by safety and compliance laws were also those businesses who were more profitable and around for the long-term.

"Attendees were open and helpful about the issues significant to their industry and provided genuine and helpful feedback about possible improvements,” Mr Wells said.

"It is vitally important the task of moving shipping containers around to serve the needs of the NSW and Australian economy is carried out by the transport industry and importantly all other responsible parties safely and professionally.

"It was a very successful event with significant discussion on what could be done to support compliance. RMS will be further investigating the many good ideas which were suggested by industry members at the forum.

"The workshop was a key step to a government-industry commitment to focus on strongly reducing non-compliant container transport on NSW roads and RMS congratulates all involved in the forum for their attendance," Mr Wells said.

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