Coles in compliance hot water as RMS demands reform

Defective trucks and drug-affected drivers detected at Coles’ major distribution centre

Coles in compliance hot water as RMS demands reform
Not good enough: Coles has been told to significantly improve its approach to heavy vehicle safety.


New South Wales authorities will hold high-level talks with Coles executives to demand significant improvements to its operations after serious heavy vehicle breaches were again detected within the retailer’s distribution centre network.

The Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and NSW Police discovered defective trucks and drivers on drugs during a joint compliance operation at Coles’ major distribution centre at Eastern Creek, west of Sydney, yesterday.

One driver tested positive to cannabis and another had cannabis and methamphetamine in his system, while 62 defect notices were issued for faults such punctured and bald tyres and oil and fuel leaks.   

Authorities also identified 29 load restraint issues, prompting RMS director of safety and compliance Peter Wells to blast Coles for its approach to safety.

"It seems from today’s results that no effective checks and balances are in place to ensure loads are safely secured or associated risks minimised," he says.

"As one of the largest distributors in the country managing the movement of thousands of trucks every day, these results are unacceptable and compromise safety on the road network."

Yesterday’s operation marks the third time in 18 months NSW authorities have put Coles’ distribution centres under the microscope, and Wells says "we are seeing the same poor practices".

"We will meet with Coles executive directors to discuss the disappointing findings to ensure there is a vast improvement in compliance levels and safety," he says.

"We call on top management and the board of directors to step in and ensure there is rapid cultural change to ensure legal compliance with the requirements for heavy vehicle safety."

Wells has also used the incident to remind parties in the transport supply chain about their obligations under chain of responsibility law.

He says individuals or companies breaching dimension, load restraint and mass regulations face fines of more than $10,000, while the penalty for off-road parties in the chain can exceed $50,000.

"Directors of companies can also be held criminally responsible for the breaches identified today," he says.

NSW Police assistant commissioner John Hartley says the defective trucks at the distribution centre could have seriously injured or killed someone.

"To see many more trucks with unsecured or poorly managed loads only increases the risk to other road users," he says.


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