Operator, consignee ordered to pay for damaging bridge

NSW court orders trucking operator and consignee to pay for damaging bridge – a first under chain of responsibility law

Operator, consignee ordered to pay for damaging bridge
Operator, consignee ordered to pay for damaging bridge
September 25, 2012

A heavy vehicle operator and a consignee in New South Wales have been whacked with hefty compensation bills under chain of responsibility law for damaging a bridge.

The NSW Supreme Court ordered Griffiths Garage to pay $1 million in compensation and a $16,500 fine for its role in the collapse of the Maitland pedestrian bridge in 2009. Consignee Rapid Access Australia was ordered to pay $400,000 and was fined $8,250.

The bridge collapsed when an overheight vehicle carrying machinery struck it. Both parties were found guilty of breaching vehicle dimension regulations.

The Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) prosecuted both businesses under chain of responsibility law, and has used the ruling to issue a warning to the trucking industry.

"This is the first time in Australia a road compensation order has been issued against parties in the chain of responsibility," RMS Director Peter Wells says.

"RMS welcomes the outcome of this important case as it sends a strong message to the entire heavy vehicle industry that damaging the state's infrastructure comes at a cost."

Wells says loaders, schedulers, drivers, owners, consignors and consignees need to be aware of their responsibilities when transporting freight.

"All loads must meet weight and dimension specifications before heading out on to the road. If they do not, RMS will hold all those in the chain responsible," Wells warns.

"This is about everyone in the chain of responsibility doing the right thing and taking reasonable steps to ensure loads meet specifications."

Wells says the court’s decision is great news for NSW residents because only those who damaged the bridge will be out of pocket.

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