Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Road Haulage Outfit Banned for Five Years After Numerous Safety Breaches

Haulier's Behaviour Could Have Had 'Catastrophic' Consequences
Shipping News Feature

UK– Scrap metal merchants and part time road haulage contractors, Highland Car Crushers has had its national goods vehicle operator licence revoked for five years after several safety breaches but, according to director Hunter Fraser, the company will not be closing down. The firm was called to a public inquiry last month after a lorry lost part of its cargo of vehicle batteries on the A96 at the Smithton roundabout last June spilling acid across the carriageway and leading to the road being closed for health and safety reasons. Traffic Commissioner Joan Aitken announced this decision regarding the company’s future saying:

“Do I need to await a death or serious injury? My resounding answer is that the whole purpose of goods vehicle operator licensing is to protect the public from the harms that arise when vehicles are not maintained properly; when loads are not safely secured and when drivers are not properly rested and fit for the job.

“It is appropriate and proportionate that I put this operator out of business in so far as that business involves the use of heavy goods vehicles. I gave this operator and its directors an excellent second chance in 2010. I took at face value the expressions made of commitment to getting it right. I am entitled to trust such expressions of intention. However, their words have proved empty”

The haulage firm based in Inverness had previously been under investigation after one of its lorries was found by traffic officers to be carrying inadequately secured timber that could have had catastrophic consequences on to the A9 in December 2009. Subsequently, the company had its licence suspended for three weeks in August 2010 following a public inquiry.

Other investigations identified more worrying issues including faults with the firms vehicle maintenance, compliance with dangerous goods regulations, a failure to classify drivers’ hours and carry out appropriate driver licence checks, the arrest and subsequent conviction of a driver stopped in a company vehicle for drink-driving and the failure of the company to declare boss Hunter Fraser’s conviction for drink-driving. Both Hunter and James Fraser were disqualified from applying for an ‘O’ licence by the Traffic Commissioner for Scotland for the next five years.

The ban will be in effect from 31st August and the disqualification of the directors will start on the 1st September. The company says it will appeal against the decisions.

Photo: Scottish firemen hose down the road after a spillage.