Driving assessment

Company fined $490,000 after tanker truck tragedy

Peter Stoitse Transport Pty Ltd pleaded guilty today in Latrobe Valley County Court to two counts of failing to provide and maintain a safe working environment.

The company was fined $300,000 for failing to provide a safe work system and $150,000 for failing to provide information, instruction or training.

He was also fined an additional $40,000 after pleading guilty to a single charge of failing to notify WorkSafe of another incident.

In May 2018, the truck driver died when the tanker he was driving overturned on its side as it rounded a bend in Leongatha.

An investigation found that despite nine previous rollovers since 2009, Peter Stoitse Transport had failed to provide its drivers with detailed information, instructions or supervised training in driving tankers carrying dynamic loads.

The court also heard that a subsequent inspection of the vehicles at the company’s Leongatha depot in July 2018 saw major defect notices issued for four of the five main engines and four of the five tank trailers inspected, requiring them to be immediately withdrawn of the road.

WorkSafe alleged that it was reasonably possible for Peter Stoitse Transport to ensure its drivers were properly trained and to adopt a safe working system to ensure their tankers were maintained in safe mechanical condition.

In September 2018, the company did not notify WorkSafe following a separate rollover in Echuca that left another driver in need of hospital treatment for a severe laceration.

WorkSafe’s executive director, health and safety, Narelle Beer, said the company had shown a clear disregard for the safety of its drivers.

“Any vehicle used by a worker in the course of their work is considered a workplace and employers therefore have a duty to ensure that it is kept in a safe condition and does not pose a risk to health,” said Dr Beer.

“Tragically, two workers have been killed in road accidents so far this year and WorkSafe will continue to take strong enforcement action against rights holders who refuse to keep their workers safe on the road. »

To manage work-related vehicle risks, employers should:

  • Ensure that appropriate safe work systems are in place and that they are regularly monitored, reviewed and, if necessary, revised.
  • Ensure that regular inspections, service and maintenance of the vehicle are carried out by suitably competent persons in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Ensure pre-operational checks are carried out daily on critical components such as brakes, steering, tires (including pressure), gauges, oil leaks and suspension and that faults are corrected by competent persons.
  • Do not allow untrained, unlicensed or inexperienced people to drive vehicles.
  • Have a system in place to ensure people are competent to do the job – this should include instruction, job information, mentoring and assessment, toolkit training and refresher training, even for experienced employees.
  • Establish appropriate rules and standards for safe road use (including speed limits for travel and maneuvering) taking into account any load factor of a vehicle, including liquid movement and its effect on a vehicle’s stability, increased stopping distances due to the surge of fluid in a reservoir, and changing environments and conditions.
  • Communicate all safety information to drivers and others (e.g. loading information for those responsible for loading and driving vehicles) to enable them to carry out their work safely and without health risks.
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