Veolia cops truck crash fine in Tasmania

Company and driver plead guilty on overpass strike and motorist impact

Veolia cops truck crash fine in Tasmania
The damaged heavy rigid after the incident


Waste transport firm Veolia is fined $9,000 over a 2018 truck accident on the Tasman Bridge in Hobart.

The tilt-tray heavy rigid was over-height when carrying a C-Type non-standard container of empty jet fuel drums on a job for the Australian Antarctic Division, according to the ruling, a rare one to be published from any magistrates court.

The container hit an overpass with a height limit of 4.3 metres, throwing it from the truck and into a car, causing the driver to be hospitalised but with non-lasting injuries.

"The defendant’s internal procedures ought to have been engaged, to ensure that somewhere between the point in the system or operation where the job request was received and the point at which the container was loaded on the truck, there was a proper response to the unusual height of the container so that when it was being transported, the load height did not exceed 4.3m," deputy chief magistrate Michael Daly observes in his decision.

"The Court was told that a truck with a lower tray could have been used.

"It appears that the defendant instead relied too heavily on the experience and training of its employed driver; and the driver had, in breach of his responsibility, relied on those loading the container onto the truck."

Read about a previous Tasmanian case that involved loading issues, here

That said, Daly accepts the driver  had the relevant training, experience, knowledge and competence to ensure the job was carried out in a safe and legally compliant manner and that the driver failed to see the highly visible ‘caution’ signs indicating the height of the container, leading him to assume it was normal height.

However, under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), compliance cannot be delegated and Veolia accepted it also had a primary duty to ensure compliance with the HVNL.

It is noted that the company subsequently checked driver’s welfare, ensured he was in contact with its insurer, compensated him for personal belongings not covered by his motor vehicle insurance and ensured he had a rental car.

It also bought measuring devices, conducted considerable further workplace training and revised its relevant workplace systems to reduce risk.

Daly notes that but for the guilty plea, the company would have been fined $12,000.

The driver, who also pleaded guilty, had a good record and told the court he relied completely on Veolia employees who loaded the truck, was fined $1,800.

He has since stopped truck driving "due to the psychological impact of these events".


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