Coles say they will take compliance issues seriously

UPDATE: COLES has released a statement about yesterday's operation, saying they would take take police and RMS concerns seriously.

This comes after a joint police and RMS operation targeted a major Coles distribution centre in Eastern Creek yesterday.

More than 60 officers attended and found overloaded trucks, driver fatigue mismanagement and load restraint issues prompting RMS to call for a "rapid" culture change at Coles.

Coles has now said they would address the issues.

"Coles takes road safety and its Chain of Responsibility obligations very seriously and always responds immediately to any concerns raised by authorities or the companies we partner with," a spokesperson said.


YESTERDAY: TWO drivers returned positive drug tests and 62 defect notices were issued during a joint heavy vehicle taskforce Operation Capicure today.

Roads and Maritime Services heavy vehicle inspectors and NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Command officers detected systemic failures in heavy vehicle safety and compliance during the operation at Coles distribution centres, the third investigation in 18 months.

Roads and Maritime Director Safety and Compliance Peter Wells said more than 60 officers attended Coles' major distribution centre in Eastern Creek after complaints of overloaded trucks, driver fatigue mismanagement and load restraint issues. 

"This is the third time we have carried out operations at Coles' distribution centres in 18 months and we are seeing the same poor practices," Mr Wells said.

"As part of the operation three men detected positive readings for being under the influence of a prohibited drug, more than 29 load restraint issues were identified and 62 defect notices were issued.

"It seems from today's results that no effective checks and balances are in place to ensure loads are safely secured or associated risks minimised. 

"As one of the largest distributors in the country managing the movement of thousands of trucks every day, these results are unacceptable and compromise safety on the road network.

"With a significant increase in the number of heavy vehicle movements ahead of Christmas it is important all distributors have proper systems in place to manage risk.

"We will meet with Coles executive directors to discuss the disappointing findings to ensure there is a vast improvement in compliance levels and safety.

"We call on top management and the Board Directors to step in and ensure there is rapid cultural change to ensure legal compliance with the requirements for heavy vehicle safety.

"Safety is our highest priority and will continue working with industry to ensure compliance levels can be lifted and systemic safety failures are stamped out.

"Strong penalties apply for any individual or company in the Chain of Responsibility who breaches dimension, load restraint and mass regulations, with fines exceeding $10,000, and off road logistics and freight companies even higher, in excess of $50,000 for each offence.

"Directors of companies can also be held criminally responsible for the breaches identified today.

"While we support productivity, it must and can be done safely."

Assistant Commissioner John Hartley of the state's Traffic & Highway Patrol Command, said the joint enforcement relationship with Roads and Maritime continues to deliver road safety benefits for NSW road users.

"To have two drivers test positive to drugs, one to cannabis and another to cannabis and methamphetamine, to find one truck with two punctured tyres, another with a number of bald tyres and others with oil, fuel leaks and other defects suggests that these enforcement efforts have not only identified those issues, but ensured those trucks do not leave the distribution centre, all of which could have contributed to either a serious injury or even a fatal crash," Assistance Commission Hartley said.

"To see many more trucks with unsecured or poorly managed loads only increases the risk to other road users.

"With 63% of Australia's road freight beginning in New South Wales, along with other major projects, the Joint Heavy Vehicle Taskforce will establish anywhere, anytime, to ensure our roads are safe.

"Now is the time for drivers, owners, operators, and others in the Chain of Responsibility to put safety first, and help us drive down the road toll."

The Joint Heavy Vehicle Taskforce will continue to deploy where unsafe and unfair commercial practices are identified and pose a risk to road safety.

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