SA towing operator to face primary duties charges

NHVR brings case following fatality, drops prohibition notice against Melbourne firm

SA towing operator to face primary duties charges
The NHVR prosecutions department has been busy lately


A South Australian company and director are being prosecuted by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) over a fatal incident at Clements Gap.

The regulator has laid primary duties charges against both as a result of an investigation by specialist major crash and heavy vehicle investigation sections of the South Australia Police.

The incident occured on February 6, 2019.

The NHVR prosecution alleges that the defendant held a primary duty under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) as the operator of a heavy vehicle engaged in heavy vehicle towing.

ATN understands the defendants are Birrell Heavy Tilt & Transport and Gregg Anthony Birrell.

This alleged breach exposed an individual to a risk of death, NHVR executive director Ray Hassall says.

 "This is a tragic incident, where someone lost their life, and these charges stem from a comprehensive investigation that found an alleged breach of the primary safety duty," he says.

"The primary safety duty aims to ensure public safety with the use of heavy vehicles in transport activities and is an obligation attached to those in the chain of responsibility and to executives of entities engaged in a transport activity."

The matter was listed for the first time in the Port Pirie Magistrates Court on November 16, 2020 and has been adjourned to December 15, 2020.

It comes as the regulator lifts the prohibition notice issued to Melbourne-based Sidhu Investments (QLD) Pty Ltd, trading as Auswide Linehaul Services.

How the Sidhu probition notice emerged, here

Hassall says the company had taken actions since the prohibition notice was issued.

These include:

  • Engaged with a third-party provider to provide driver training and conduct skill-based assessments
  • Introduced controls for fatigue management and training, fitness for duty, non-conformance management, incident management, vehicle safety and due diligence
  • Managed and conducted the inspection of 65 prime movers and heavy trailers in four different states to ensure the fleet is free of defects
  • Engaged an external Safety Consultant to assist with the implementation of procedures and ongoing training to all staff including drivers
  • Continued the installation of real-time monitoring of driver fatigue software throughout their fleet.

 "The NHVR believes as a result of the corrective actions taken since the issue of the prohibition notice that the immediate or imminent serious risk to the health or safety described in the notice no longer exists," Hassall says.

"The NHVR will continue to actively monitor the safety of the heavy vehicle industry and intervene using the full range of tools provided under the HVNL where we believe it to be appropriate."


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