Farmers risk overloading breaches

Most farms lack weighbridges, forcing many to estimate when loading trucks

By Brad Gardner | June 25, 2010

Most farms are running the risk of loading breaches, with a group saying "99 percent" do not have weighbridges to ensure trucks are not overloaded.

Benjamin Mason from the NSW Farmers Association used a parliamentary inquiry into heavy vehicle safety to say most farms estimate "with the best intentions" when loading trucks.

"Well, mass limits in paddocks – 99 percent of farms do not have a weighbridge," he says.

"It is the case also where that gross mass is underneath the limit but they might have, on a single axle group, exceeded the limit."

Mason says the Farmers Association is working with the Livestock and Bulk Carriers Association to stamp out mass overloading, and the incidence of breaches has fallen.

He wants the Roads and Traffic Authority to cut the sector some slack on small overloading breaches.

"[We are] focusing mainly on eliminating the gross mass breaches and in return getting a little bit of flexibility for the vast majority of loads, which may only exceed the limits by a small amount," Mason says.

He says the group is raising its concerns in meetings and is confident it is being listened to by the RTA.

Under chain of responsibility law, all parties involved in the delivery of goods are accountable for ensuring trucks are not overloaded.

Mason also backed national transport regulations, which are due to be introduced in 2013 to end cross-border inconsistencies.

"For transport operators and owner operators and the primary producers who are near borders it is no doubt quite frustrating when there is differing animal welfare, fatigue and livestock loading legislation," he says.

A national heavy vehicle regulator will be established in Queensland, with that state’s parliament responsible for introducing laws. Other jurisdictions will then introduce the same laws to ensure national consistency.

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