Tasmania’s biggest log haulage operator has been fined $80,000 and its director $8000 for failing to ensure their truckies complied with fatigue management obligations.
Les Walkden Enterprises Pty Ltd and company director Leslie James Walkden faced a combined three charges of breaching a safety duty under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).
They both pleaded guilty and were sentenced in Launceston Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, May4.
As a result of the offences the Tasmanian Local Court also issued two Supervisory Intervention Orders (SIOs) worth $100,000 to the company and director, requiring them to address their faults in fatigue management.
SIOs are court orders that require a company or individual to implement better practices, train staff and implement safety systems or procedures to ensure future compliance with the HVNL. If the company fails to comply, they can be brought back before the court.
According to a statement from the NHVR, its extensive investigation revealed ongoing fatigue breaches by the company. Over a 12-month period, the company had 251 fatigue-related breaches which were undetected by the company and director. Due to the management of these practices, charges were laid under sections 26G and 26H of the HVNL.
NHVR director of prosecutions Belinda Hughes said both outcomes are significant as they will help improve safety across the industry.
“Both the company and the Director must now engage an accredited training provider to receive training in key areas like applying a fatigue risk management system and then administer that system,” said Hughes.
“The sentence is designed to deter the company and individual from repeating the offence while protecting the safety of industry and the broader community. We urge all companies to review their training practices to manage the fatigue of their drivers.
“Fatigue is a serious issue that can result in serious injury or death. It is imperative you train your drivers and take on the responsibility of fatigue management.”
In a statement published on its Facebook page, Les Walkden Enterprises said the charges concerned breaches identified during the period of December 1, 2019, to February 29, 2000, and a number of those relate to administrative issues regarding completion of logbooks and record-keeping.
“The charges do not relate to the detection of fatigue in drivers and there has been no allegation made by the NHVR in the course of the proceedings of actual fatigue being suffered by any Les Walkden Enterprises drivers,” the statement said.
“There has been no allegation that any incidents have occurred either through fatigue, or otherwise, as a consequence of the allegations contained in the charges.”
Les Walkden Enterprises said it remains committed to the safety of its drivers and the community, and since being made aware of the breaches the company and Walkden have instituted various measures to address the risks identified.
They include staff and driver training, the installation of Guardian units and Teletrac Navman systems and changes to operational logistics.