Timber consignor fined $75,000 over pedestrian crossing truck rollover

A consignor of timber goods has pleaded guilty to one category two offence under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) and was convicted and fined $75,000 at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.

The consignor had breached its safety duty by exposing drivers and members of the public to the risk of death or serious injury by failing to comply with section 26G of the HVNL.

The NHVR first charged the Victorian-based company with this safety offence after a truck rolled over onto a pedestrian island crossing. The heavy vehicle was loaded with a 40-foot shipping container carrying 26 tonnes of imported timber plywood products when it rolled in 2019.

The regulator said that its investigation revealed that the consignor had failed to:

  • Comply with its own CoR policy.
  • Provide overseas suppliers with instructions regarding compliance with Australian safety regulations.
  • Require records and photographs of the container’s load and restraint to be provided prior to shipping.
  • Advise the driver and operator of the vehicle on how the load was restrained.

Unsecured or inappropriately packed freight in shipping containers transported by road poses a significant safety risk to drivers, workers, other road users and the community, the NHVR said in a media statement.

NHVR executive director statutory compliance Ray Hassall stated that all parties in the chain should take note of this court outcome.

“This is a significant decision that should be heeded by all duty holders under the HVNL, but particularly those involved in the consignment of imported goods,” said Hassall.

“These obligations are in place to ensure all parties in the CoR manage the safety of their transport activities and can’t simply delegate responsibility to drivers and transport operators.”

The NHVR added that consignors and consignees have the best opportunity to influence how shipping containers are packed and loaded at the point of origin through contractual and commercial relationships.

“They must communicate with suppliers, manufacturers, packers and loaders to ensure processes are carried out to meet safety requirements.”

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