Dropped trailer the final straw for Toll

Fair Work upholds Toll's decision to sack driver whose failure to follow procedures caused trailer to fall off a truck

Dropped trailer the final straw for Toll
Dropped trailer the final straw for Toll

By Brad Gardner | Janaury 16, 2012

Fair Work Australia has upheld Toll’s decision to sack a truck driver whose failure to follow company procedures caused a trailer to fall off a prime mover.

Gordon O’Hehir was shown the door last year for not checking his trailer was connected to the truck before leaving a Toll depot west of Sydney.

O’Hehir, who worked for Toll for more than 26 years, launched an unfair dismissal claim but Fair Work Australia ruled his treatment was not harsh, unjust or unreasonable.

"It is not contested that on 11 July 2011 the applicant did not check whether the trailer was connected to the prime mover prior to the trailer being dropped," Senior Deputy President Jonathan Hamberger says.

"I am satisfied that based on the applicant’s conduct there was a valid reason for termination. I am also satisfied that the applicant was aware that his conduct could result in his termination."

Hamberger says a mechanical report submitted after the incident found no fault with the prime mover or the trailer.

"As a result of that and, as Mr O’Hehir had admitted that he did not perform the required checks, the company was terminating his employment," he says.

During a disciplinary hearing with O’Hehir, Toll management pointed out the need for drivers to perform a ‘tug test’ to make sure a trailer was secure.

The offence was the latest in a string of incidents involving O’Hehir, who was previously handed official notices to improve his work performance.

In January 2010 his prime mover rolled backwards and struck another trailer, which Hamberger says caused substantial damage. O’Hehir had to jump inside the moving vehicle to apply the brakes.

He reversed into a parked car on October 8, 2010. O’Hehir was then ordered to undergo a driver assessment course after he failed to connect the trailer to the prime mover correctly on October 29, causing the unit to slip from the prime mover and drop to the ground.

Toll issued safety alerts months prior to O’Hehir’s sacking to remind drivers to properly secure trailers to prime movers.

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