Stowaway and other breaches uncovered in Operation Sierra Angle


QTA reinforces most operators compliant but there’s no room for complacency

Stowaway and other breaches uncovered in Operation Sierra Angle
Queensland Police image from the blitz

 

Industry's mostly staunch resolve throughout the Covid-19 pandemic has been tested this week as a Queensland heavy vehicle blitz on the NSW border uncovers one stowaway from Victoria and nearly 50 other offences from 184 intercepts.

Operation Sierra Angle was the moniker given to the "major Covid-19 compliance operation targeting freight vehicles in Queensland" organised by the Road Policing Command’s Heavy Vehicle Enforcement Team, officers from Taskforce Sierra Linnet and local police in key state border control sites.

More than 180 heavy vehicles were intercepted across three sites – Cunningham Highway at Goondiwindi, Leichardt Highway at Goondiwindi, and New England Highway at Wyberba.

Roadside breath and drug testing also formed part of the operation. Three truck drivers returned a positive drug test.

The operation gained mainstream attention when Police intercepted a prime mover on Dumaresq Crossing Road, where a 51-year-old Victorian woman was found hiding behind the driver’s seat.

The woman and the 61-year-old male driver were each issued a $4,003 infringement for failing to comply with the Queensland Border Direction and directed to leave the state.

In total, the operation saw:

  • 184 heavy vehicle intercepts (includes semi trailers, road trains and over-sized vehicles)
  • 46 heavy vehicle traffic offences (mostly work diary and fatigue management)
  • 183 random breath tests and 140 random drug tests
  • 3 positive drug tests.

Despite this, scting chief superintendent Ray Rohweder says the operation "indicated a satisfactory overall compliance of the Public Health Directions within the freight transport industry".

"Officers intercepted a significant number of vehicles and while there were some issues identified, the vast majority of truck drivers clearly understood their requirements to social distance and limit their contact with others while in Queensland," he says.

"Unfortunately, some drivers were not complying with laws around drug driving, fatigue management and vehicle maintenance."

The traffic operation was planned "for several weeks" and follows an investigation in Mackay last week where 16 carnival operators from Victoria were fined $4,003 after travelling around Queensland in breach of freight pass directions.

Heavy vehicle operators travelling into Queensland on a Freight Border Declaration Pass must comply with restrictions and departure requirements, a point reinforced by the Queensland Trucking Association (QTA).


VTA urged vigilance this week after a driver's role in the Shepparton cluster


"I would like to acknowledge the outstanding job that the industry has done to manage infection control over the past six months and how you have managed the constant rule changes to border entry," QTA CEO Gary Mahon says in an industry communique.

"However, regardless of how busy the freight task is, it is vitally important that all the normal safety management and vehicle maintainance programs are maintained to ensure the safety of your people and your vehicles.  

"This week QPS, TMR and NHVR undertook Operation Sierra Angle which involves heavy vehicle and freight protocol compliance checks of heavy vehicles. 

"QPS reported that the majority of the vehicles checked were compliant and had the current border declaration paperwork requirements. 

"Reportedly, there were some that received infringement notices for log book offences and vehicle defects, as well as fines issued for an unauthorised person being brought across the border in a truck.

"One particular issue that was highlighted in the Operation on Wednesday was some drivers not being aware they needed to keep Close Contact Records. 

"We understand that some drivers may not have contact that satisifies the requirement to record contact, however, they must carry a form.

"This is still a requirement under the current Directive 15." 

QTA reminds that a person is a close contact of another person if they are in the company of the other person: within an enclosed space for a period of 2 hours or longer; or within 1.5 metres of the other person for a period of 15 minutes or longer.

Records that are required to be kept are: the name and phone number and email address of the close contact and the day, time and location at which the close contact occurred; or if the name and phone number or email address are not known or it is not reasonably practicable to obtain them, the day, time and location at which the close contact occurred.

In addition to holding the correct Border Declaration Pass, QTA strongly recommends employers to reinforce the following with drivers:

  • maintain strict hygiene protocols and update them as needed
  • urge drivers and staff travelling into Covid-19 hotspots to continue (or commence) a 7-day voluntary testing process. This is important for even one-off runs into Covid-19 hotspots. 
  • Close Contact Records Form ensure that drivers travelling to Covid-19 hotspots continue to diligently complete their
  • update your Covid-19 Safe Business Plan as needed
  • refresh all staff of your hygiene protocols
  • distribute the Safety Guidelines for Cabin Cleaning, Truck Stops and Drivers
  • have staff complete the free Hygiene Awareness Course 
  • continue to supply any necessary PPE to all drivers.
  • have a protocols in place for interstate drivers entering your depot and your drivers returning from Covid-19 hotspots (eg separate amenities, facilities)

"Although Queensland's reported Covid-19 cases are low, there is no room for complacency," Mahon adds.

"It continues to be vitally important that anyone with any COVID symptoms goes to have a test and that drivers travelling from hotspots into Queensland undertake voluntary seven-day testing.  

"I strongly urge you all to reinforce this message with your drivers and staff. 

"If you are travelling to an interstate location for the first time, please take the time to check the border protocols prior to your planned departure. 

"This is particularly important for freight and logistics support workers to avoid complications at the borders."

 

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