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NHVR to look at Murray Goulburn DC systems

NHVR says it will have a “bit of a look” at waiting practices imposed on trucking contractors but applauds dairy company’s pledge to improve


Last week we revealed that dairy giant Murray Goulburn had waiting practices at its big distribution centre in Melbourne which appeared to breach the chain of responsibility law on fatigue.

Drivers waiting at the big MG distribution centre at Laverton North have had to stay alert, sometimes for hours on end, past their timeslots.

Drivers have to listen out to an FM radio frequency for their rego plate and dock number to be called.

There has been no guaranteed knock on the door; no pager/buzzer system; and no simple phone call with advice provided on how to block out all undesired calls if the driver needs to sleep.

In response to our questions, Murray Goulburn told us it will update its driver induction to tell waiting drivers they will get a knock on the door if they fall sleep.

Before running the story we had spoken with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator about the situation.

“Now that you have brought it to my attention we will get the team to have a bit of a look at it,” NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto says.

“But it sounds like Murray Goulburn have actually realised that they can do a couple of things better and I actually applaud the fact that they have identified some process improvements that they’re going to start to apply.”

At present the NHVR can’t wield a big stick with Murray Goulburn or other trucking customers and operators even if it wanted to, because chain of responsibility enforcement is the responsibility of the states and territories.

But the trucking industry laments the fact that most state authorities don’t wield what sticks they have very often either. Petroccitto confirms it’s mainly talk.

“In this case normally what would happen is that either Vicpol (Victoria Police) or Vicroads would probably go out and have a chat with them and say ‘Hey are you aware of this; what steps are you putting in place to actually fix the issue?’ he says.

“And in all honesty that’s probably the approach that we were keen to be adopted at the first trigger; get out there, make the operator aware of where there might be a failure in their processes and encourage them to put improvement steps in play.”

The main enforcement agency for COR on fatigue in Victoria is Victoria Police (Vicpol). We sent them Murray Goulburn’s response to our questions and asked for comment.

“Victoria Police is not in a position to confirm who may or may not be under investigation in respect of an individuals and or company’s privacy,” said Vicpol’s response.

“The Road Crime Investigations Heavy Vehicle Unit however urges anyone with concerns around potential chain of responsibility breaches to contact their unit so an assessment on any such allegation can be looked into and investigated.”

We also asked Vicpol what is happening with a planned new specialised COR team within that heavy vehicle unit, which was supposed to be up and running by early this year.

That team is supposed to beef up investigative competencies and be capable of going all the way to the top of the chain.

We received no response.




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