Cross-check for compliance, says top transport lawyer

Peter Woodhouse, from bus and coach industry legal specialists, Stone King LLP, says your maintenance record can flag up neglected walk-round checks.

Peter Woodhouse, Stone King LLP

Writing in the 22 March issue of Bus & Coach Buyer, Peter says the compliance issue that most frequently seems to trouble operators is the driver daily walk-round check, and its importance cannot be overstated. He says that issues which come up in the workshop can be double-checked against the walk-round check record, to see if drivers are being thorough.

Peter told B&CB: “The Guide To Maintaining Roadworthiness sets out the legal requirements, but many operators still seem to be unaware of what they are: “Operators must be able to prove that the check was done. The system needs to be in writing and to generate a record whether a defect is found.”

Modern maintenance systems centralise the driver walk-round check to cross-reference more easily

Peter stresses there can be difficulties when drivers do not return to site overnight: “In these cases, the operator must ensure that there is a system for ensuring that the defect check is done before the vehicle moves. With the advent of electronic driver defect systems linked to GPS tracking systems, this should be much more manageable.

“A check should cover the whole vehicle and include all interior and exterior items that can be safely assessed without the use of a workshop. Drivers who do the check in the dark should be issued with a torch and they should be expected to check, for example, all visible portions of tyres. However, they would not be expected to check the inside edge of a double wheel fixing.”

Drivers are expected to look and listen out for defects, he suggests: “For example, a leaking air hose might not be visible but might be audible.

“Operators should audit their defect system. This should include a gate checking system where the vehicle can be given a re-check as it exits the site. Then, usually but not necessarily the Transport Manager, should audit vehicle files to ensure that all defect sheets are on it. Where there is a defect that requires rectification, there should be a job sheet recording the work being signed off as completed.”

“Finally, an operator should use its periodic maintenance inspection system to cross check to the defect check. If there are defects appearing on the periodic maintenance check that should have been picked up by a driver, that is a strong indication that the system is not working as intended.

“As ever, an operator should risk assess its own operation in the light of the compliance requirements. Once it has identified how best to implement those requirements it should record the system in writing, train in the system with drivers and other staff and give refresher training where appropriate.”

  • Read our feature about compliance in the 22 March issue, available on the website

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