FTA interview with Paul Endycott, General Manager Compliance Operations Branch RMS

Friday, April 19, 2013

As highlighted in previous FTA notices, Roads & Maritime Services (RMS) and the NSW Police have made it extremely clear that their objectives are to ensure that NSW roads are safe through monitoring of transport compliance. RMS is committed to ongoing industry consultation to achieve this outcome whilst ensuring that industry remains "profitable and secure". In this context, I recently had the privilege to interview Paul Endycott, General Manager Compliance Operations Branch RMS. 




Q1. PAUL ZALAI - Safe and compliant heavy vehicle container transport is clearly a high priority issue for RMS. From a compliance perspective, what has been the initial impact of the weigh in motion (WIM) technology recently implemented at Port Botany?


Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) is committed to helping maintain an efficient Sydney Ports precinct by ensuring heavy vehicles leaving the precinct are safe and legally compliant with road transport legislation.


The safe loading and mass restrictions imposed on vehicles leaving the precinct are crucial to road safety and asset protection in NSW.  Safe vehicle loading practices are also vitally important in preventing injury to road users and damage to property.


The weigh-in-motion (WIM) technology installed at Port Botany has strongly reduced the number of overloaded vehicles leaving the port precinct.


Sydney Ports stakeholders have supported this important compliance initiative.  This outcome demonstrates the growing partnership between RMS and the heavy vehicle industry which are working together to achieve higher levels of compliance with mass requirements and other road transport laws including the obligations placed on off-road parties under the chain of responsibility provisions.


However, there is more work that can be done to ensure heavy vehicles leaving the precinct are weighed and comply with mass requirements.


Q2. PAUL ZALAI - Have you experienced issues with industry not following correct procedures for import containers that have been identified in breach of mass or axle weights?


The WIMs weigh each heavy vehicle before it leaves the terminal.  Overmass vehicles are subject to a standing direction issued by RMS.  A driver with a container load falling within a minor or substantial mass breach category must attend a Container Freight Station (CFS) if the axle or gross limits are detected over the legal limits.  This enables the driver to have the load adjusted to comply with the relevant mass limits.  Where the mass breach is in the category of a severe risk breach the heavy vehicle must not leave the terminal until the overmass breach has been rectified.


Our experience has been that some drivers are electing not to attend the CFS and are driving to their intended destinations without adjusting their loads to achieve mass compliance.  Records have been obtained from stevedores and the CFS which Investigators are reviewing to ascertain any non compliance.  Enforcement strategies are constantly being reviewed in order to ensure continued improvement in compliance.


Q3. PAUL ZALAI - What is the intention of RMS in context of export containers? Will there eventually be a requirement for these containers to also pass through the WIMs?


All parties in the chain of responsibility must take reasonable steps to ensure the weight of a heavy vehicle and its load is ascertained before the vehicle commences a journey.  That is, the parties need to be in possession of sufficient and reliable evidence which identifies the weight of the heavy vehicle and demonstrates that the load on the heavy vehicle has been weighed or its weight has been otherwise reliably ascertained.


These are the sorts of reasonable steps that must be taken to ensure compliance with the mass requirements for heavy vehicles.  The WIMs at the terminals are in place to identify overmass heavy vehicles before they leave the terminals and commence their journey.  There are no specific plans at this time to require heavy vehicles entering the terminals to pass over the WIMs but it is important to stress that drivers and parties in the chain of responsibility are under exactly the same mass and dimension obligations in respect of loads intended for export as they are for any other type of load.


RMS compliance and enforcement resources are deployed to detect overmass heavy vehicles across the whole of the NSW road network.  RMS enforcement officers are deployed at our many heavy vehicle checking stations and additional enforcement staff support the checking stations by conducting roadside enforcement throughout regional and metropolitan areas.


Q4. PAUL ZALAI - Whilst the WIMs appear to be addressing most of the weight issues, a separate problem appears to be that some heavy consignments within containers are being transported with inappropriate load and restraint application. How is RMS intending to address this concern?


Throughout 2012, RMS increasingly tackled non-compliance of road transport legislation by some sectors of the road transport industry. Non-compliance issues, often significantly embedded in the road transport industry, include speeding, speed limiter tampering, vehicle standards, fatigue and load restraint.


The issue of non-compliant load restraint was highlighted by two recent incidents, one resulting in a fatality caused by a shipping container rolling onto a light vehicle.  In another incident heavy rolls of steel smashed through the side of a shipping container on the Tom Ugly's Bridge causing over $1million in damage to the bridge.


As a consequence of these incidents, Operation Steel 1 & 2 were conducted in August and September 2012 with a third Operation Steel being conducted this month (16 and 17 April 2013).  Planning for these operations places a heavy emphasis on appropriate restraint of loads within containers.  These joint RMS and New South Wales Police Force operations also focus on the roadworthiness of heavy vehicles and compliance with vehicle standards, adherence to dimension requirements, speeding compliance obligations and fatigue management.


Recently, RMS has worked with a number of freight importers and forwarders (consignors and consignees) to address concerns about poor load restraint practices.  In consultation with RMS, new load restraint methods have been developed to meet the needs of transport operators and the parties have worked with their supply chain partners to improve compliance.


As a positive example, one large business involved in a load restraint incident has implemented new business practices by photographing items as they are restrained within the container, and placing the photographs on shipping documentation.  This and other new load restraint practices have been rolled out across the business and adopted for containers coming into and out of Australia and New Zealand.  RMS has been advised that this business has also informed all its stakeholders of the new practices and has instructed that these rules must be followed if they want to remain compliant with their business requirements.  Good practices like these protect the business and its supply chain partners through being able to demonstrate reasonable load restraint steps have been taken before other parties handle the containers.


RMS and the NSW Police Force have increased the number of joint heavy vehicle task force operations.  The operations promote high-visibility compliance and enforcement actions. Operation Steel aimed to enhance road safety by promoting the safe transport of loads on heavy vehicles through a strong compliance and enforcement presence.


RMS will continue to target non-compliance issues such as load restraint in this industry during 2013 with an increasing focus on the off road sector (which includes consignors and consignees, loading managers, loaders, packers, operators, prime contractors and employers).


Q5. PAUL ZALAI - How will the "chain of responsibility" compliance activity be enforced?  The transport operator is dependent on information received from a freight forwarder or customs broker. Equally these intermediaries are dependent on accurate documentation from the importer or exporter. Where does the responsibility for compliance with the road laws start and end?


All parties in the chain of responsibility (CoR) are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance with mass, load restraint, dimension and other obligations.  This requires parties to employ a risk management approach to their obligations under CoR legislation by identifying and assessing risks that could lead to non-compliance and then taking steps to eliminate, reduce or manage those risks.  This approach is consistent with other aspects of running a successful business, including work health and safety requirements.  A key to good risk management procedures is to have in place compliance assurance conditions between supply chain partners so that you can be confident that other parties in the chain of responsibility are also meeting their obligations.  Ongoing assessment and audit of procedures is critical.  It is very important that each party clearly documents the steps taken to eliminate identified risks.


In regards to the loading of goods into a heavy vehicle, the loader/loading manager must ensure the vehicle's load does not exceed the dimension or mass limits, and that the goods cannot become unstable, move or fall from the vehicle.  Equally other aspects of heavy vehicle compliance must be observed including the fatigue management of heavy vehicle drivers.


CoR investigations are typically initiated as a result of RMS analysis and intelligence; identified risk to public safety; critical incidents; and public referrals.


An incident or breach of CoR legislation does not mean that liability automatically falls on any party. Regardless of industry type (transport operator or otherwise), people engaging the services of road transport companies must take all reasonable steps to prevent these breaches.


More information on CoR can be found on the RMS website (www.rms.nsw.gov.au) by clicking on Heavy Vehicles.


Q6. PAUL ZALAI - There clearly needs a change of culture across the supply chain to comply with requirements ensuring safe practices. Will RMS be in a position to support individual businesses if they seek advice?


The aim of RMS' operations is to change the culture and behaviour across the heavy vehicle industry with a strategic goal to promote the safe use of our roads and reduce and keep down levels of non-compliance with road transport legislation.  This has two objectives – to maximise safety for all road users, and to facilitate a productive freight sector to support economic development.


Enforcement operations are a crucial element in deterring unsafe behaviour and its value is maximised when it is supported by public education campaigns, media attention and tough penalties.  This is so because all of these activities raise compliance awareness and remind all CoR parties, from the consignor who sends the goods or load to the consignee who receives the goods or load after the journey and every party in between of the risk and the consequences of being caught.


RMS has worked closely with peak industry groups and individual companies both on and off road in the container sector.  RMS and the NSW Police Force Traffic and Highway Patrol Command are committed to continuing to work closely with all parties in the transport supply chain to further enhance the impact and effectiveness of our joint compliance initiatives.  RMS and Police will assist industry in its continued efforts to ensure safety and compliance and to help industry continue to build a productive, efficient, profitable and, above all, safe transport sector.


RMS has a full time Industry Liaison Officer who works collaboratively with industry to support continuous improvement and compliance with road transport legislation.  The Industry Liaison Officer is available to meet with drivers, operators and others in the supply chain to assist them to identify their compliance obligations and develop effective methods of complying with those obligations. 


PAUL ZALAI - On behalf of FTA and our subscribers, thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. We look forward to working closely with you and your NSW Police colleagues in meeting the upcoming challenges.