OSOM access report sets dozens of reform tasks

By: Rob McKay

Warning of national economic harm if efficiencies fail to be realised

OSOM access report sets dozens of reform tasks
An image from the report's cover


Failure to act on over size, over mass (OSOM) transport impediments risks damaging the national economy, a report on the issue has found.

Written for the federal Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development (DIRDaC), the Review of Oversize Overmass (OSOM) Access Arrangements report follows an outcry earlier this year concerning shortfalls and delays that were adding huge extra costs to the task, delaying infrastructure projects and putting truck-driver welfare at risk.

"While the system is not broken – evidenced by the ongoing movement of OSOM loads across the country, the review has identified that there is considerable scope to improve systems that support the efficient assessment and operation of the OSOM transport task," the report that contains 38 recommendations states.

"During the conduct of this Review, various participants in the industry including state authorities, the mining sector and the transport industry have all demonstrated the capacity to respond quickly to deliver some of the desired efficiencies to improve OSOM movements, while mitigating their impacts on other road users and their safety.

"Continuing to achieve these improvements as the number of movements expands significantly over time will require the continuing co-operation, focus and resource commitment of all participants, especially during the next two years as the processes are refined and improved.

"Failure to achieve the efficiencies could harm the National economy significantly. OSOM load requirements are driven by the key mining and agriculture industries where investment and employment are dependent on economically feasible projects. Improved OSOM processes can help ensure the viability of these projects."

Read about some of the many issues the OSOM system threw at industry, here

One of the trucking industry’s driving forces on the issue nationally is Tasmanian Transport Association (TTA) board member and Tasmanian Heavy Haulage (THH) general manager Steve Ryan, who welcomes the report.

"The fact that there ae 38 recommendations in there is a very good veracity check for us that we haven’t been ‘crying wolf’ for the last four years," Ryan says, while noting it was expected four months earlier.

"We have genuine concerns and now an independent person has found them to be true and correct

"We now want that report to be treated with the urgency we believe it deserves. And we strongly urge the deputy prime minister – I believe it is sitting on his desk – to get all stakeholders together to try and collaboratively work out a way to get some or all of those recommendations implemented."

Western Australia’s Western Roads Federation (WRF) welcomes the report, noting OSOM is a "key enabler of infrastructure projects, both public and private, delays in moving large equipment and materials to projects generates significant cost to business and ultimately the community".

It was particularly pleased the report acknowledges the risk of potential economic harm.

"Ultimately it is due recognition being given to our OSOM operators and the vital role they play in facilitating efficient infrastructure delivery," CEO Cam Dumesny says in a statement the TTA echoes.

"OSOM is one of the most complex areas of road transport with multiple parties involved in enabling moves, from road asset owners (including private roads ), police, rail, power companies etc all of which have to be co-ordinated when moving loads interstate." 

Tasks for government

Publishing the report came at direction of the Transport and Infrastructure Council’s (TIC’s), which has the lion’s share of recommendations with 20, reflecting the preponderance of intra-state and territory issues needing attention, while the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has 16, with the federal department receiving one related to preparing with others an implementation program and ongoing monitoring.

The TIC’s tasks include publication on relevant websites and systemic use of the Vehicle Limits Manual by the end of this year, pilot driver and vehicle rules harmonisation, and an average 48-hour turnaround time for low risk OSOM vehicles.

Not surprisingly, the longest recommendation with 10 points, for joint TIC-NHVR attention, relates to addressing local government asset management systems.

The NHVR’s tasks, amongst other things, include guideline, data, technology, communications and staff training improvements, collaborating on project-specific permits allowing for multiple movements and configurations for the same application, arrangements to deal with emergency situations, including escalation process, regional teams to work with road managers.

Sure to be welcomed by operators is the recommendation to the NHVR to ensure all permits "have an automatic empty return trip attached as a condition of permit, which does not require a new assessment".

The National Transport Commission (NTC) is tasked with progressing consideration toward policy/regulatory settings to boost the uptake and use of telematics in OSOM heavy vehicles.

"The NHVR welcomes the Oversized, Over mass report by consultants WSP, into improving access for OSOM heavy vehicles," its spokesperson says.

"The report, commissioned by the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities makes a number of recommendations.

"The NHVR will be part of a working group led by the Department and including representatives from road managers and industry.

"The NHVR looks forward to working with the Department and all road managers to continue to improve heavy vehicle access and safety."

The report and its recommendations can be found here.


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