More workshop scrutiny needed: Delta V

By: Paul Howell


Investigator sees mismatches between maintenance ordered and maintenance completed to standard.

More workshop scrutiny needed: Delta V
Delta V says instances of poor maintenance have involved transport companies with in-house maintenance divisions and those that sub-contract work to third parties.

 

Just because there is a paper trail does not mean vital maintenance work is up to scratch, a private road incident investigation team has warned.

The principal forensic engineer and managing director of Delta-V Experts Shane Richardson says more needs to be done to ensure heavy vehicles are consistently fit for purpose on Australian roads and that visual inspections become part of workshop cultures.

"We’re not saying things are deliberately being missed," Shane Richardson says.

"But if you only do a paper audit, you are never going to find the real problems."

While he does not offer specific examples, he says a number of recent heavy vehicle crashes have involved poor maintenance as a contributing factor.

Tyres, axels, brakes and steering components are the most common risks.

"Work is being signed off on but no one is checking the end result," Richardson says.

Some checks may get missed accidentally and some may be completed but not to a high-enough standard. The problem occurs in transport companies with in-house maintenance divisions and those that sub-contract work to third parties, Richardson says.

His thoughts are in line with previous industry questions on heavy vehicle maintenance.  Industry relations manager with National Transport Insurance (NTI) Owen Driscoll says truck crashes are more likely to be caused by fire (including from failed wheel bearings and brake wiring) than driver fatigue.

"It naturally raises the question of whether the standard of quality and regular equipment maintenance has become less rigorous," he says.

New South Wales roads minister Duncan Gay has also raised concerns about the veracity of accreditation schemes including the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS).

He has warned a "pick and choose" practice exists whereby operators decide which private auditors will inspect their vehicles.

Delta V is not advocating new legislation in this area. Rather, it predicts pressure from insurers and courts will force company directors to improve processes and ensure maintenance work is sufficiently evidenced.

"Crash repairers have been taking before and after photos of their work for some time," Richardson says.

"Filing time-stamped images of work would go a long way to ensuring it is done right."

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