PAVEMENT WRANGLE: A veteran concrete truck driver dodged a shock fine thanks to the union’s intervention.
PAVEMENT WRANGLE: A veteran concrete truck driver dodged a shock fine thanks to the union’s intervention.

Truckie fined $344 as he pours concrete for local council

WITH 32 years in the role and a blemish-free driving record, it should have been another run-of-the-mill day on the job for the long-time Holcim Australia Readymix contractor.

But a few days later he got the surprise of his life in the mail - a $344 infringement notice for parking his Mack agitator within 10 metres of an intersection while pouring concrete for kerb and guttering works.

Unbeknown to the driver - he preferred not to be named for our story - a Fairfield City Council ranger had logged the job as a violation, even though he was effectively working for the same west Sydney boss.

A redacted copy of the infringement notice with a picture of the truckie at work.
A redacted copy of the infringement notice with a picture of the truckie at work.

Luckily for the hapless truckie, the Transport Workers' Union of NSW got involved and had the fine quashed without conviction in the NSW Magistrates Court, with the magistrate left wondering why such a trivial matter had made it that far.

The incident has also left the TWU's NSW state secretary Richard Olsen wanting more answers.

"Our member is asking why the Fairfield City Council did not put traffic management in place, and where were the permits that Holcim should have arranged with the council?," said Mr Olsen in a media release.

"Our member should have been able to turn up to the site and know that he and his truck would be safe as well as members of the public. Fairfield City Council should have ensured that traffic management was in place, based on the needs of a heavy vehicle and a concrete pour.

"Safety in the transport industry is a shared responsibility. Clients like Fairfield City Council and contracting companies like Holcim Australia's Readymix must explain to our members why they are not properly ensuring a safe, managed drop off zone for deliveries."

Big Rigs approached the council and Holcim for an explanation.

We're still waiting to hear from Holcim but a Fairfield City Council spokesperson responded by telling us that the contractor was pouring concrete for an "independent worksite", not for a council worksite.

"The infringement notice was issued due to the positioning of the truck on the road, which posed a safety risk for the public and traffic," said the emailed response.

"Council takes work place and traffic safety seriously."

The TWU of NSW was surprised to hear the council told Big Rigs that the contractor was working for someone else, given the clear evidence to the contrary acknowledged in court.

"Council must also ensure that when it comes to safety for the transport industry, they do not walk away from the problem by placing the blame into the hands of a contractor," it responded in a statement.

"Fairfield City Council, as the TWU understands it, were the "economic employer" in this case. The TWU understands that according to our driver the pour was for a Fairfield City Council job.

"We understand the worksite was theirs, for a project that was theirs (roadworks) whether or not they engaged a contractor.

"On behalf of members we would expect that Council could explain to us what requirements were put in place by them for the said contractor to provide traffic management.

"We would ask that Council explain to us how they were enforcing any such traffic management plan, which would mean the site was controlled and as a result, truck drivers were given safe and well thought out directions as to where to safely place heavy vehicles.

The TWU said it does not accept that proper enforcement is defined by sending an officer to photograph and subsequently penalise the truck driver.

"The TWU appreciates that Council takes work place and traffic safety seriously, however the TWU is concerned that the Council may have breached Work Health and Safety Legislation."

Mr Olsen said he'll also be asking the NHVR to seek better compliance from clients and companies like Holcim, ensuring a safer workday for transport workers.

"Currently the shared responsibility for safety is not equal; transport workers are still copping the major part of the load," he added.

"In our member's case, a loss of income, an unnecessary day in court simply because a simple act of communication and the provision of a traffic management plan was missing.

"Holcim should not have sent our member to the site without ensuring the compliance and permits were in place.

"Legally enforceable changes are required to ensure driver safety and that is not just in the driver's cab. Changes right across the supply chain will push clients like Fairfield City Council to take their shared safety responsibilities more seriously."

In response, the NHVR told Big Rigs that it takes issues of safety and compliance very seriously, right across the supply chain.

"Amended Chain of Responsibility laws introduced in late 2018 make it clear that every party in the chain of responsibility is responsible for the safety of other road users," said a spokesperson for the NHVR.

"We have recently commenced our first prosecution under these amended laws, laying charges against a company director for failing to exercise due diligence to ensure the company complied with its safety duty.

"If any driver ever feels that they have been asked to do something by their employer or someone else in the supply chain that creates a safety risk they can make a free, confidential report to the Heavy Vehicle Confidential Reporting Line on 1800 931 785."

Big Rigs

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