Regulating truck safety: rules and responsibilities
By Kathy Bockus, AdvocateDaily.com Contributor
Trucking company owners are responsible for confirming their drivers are properly trained and following mandated safety legislation to ensure public safety and mitigate the effects of penalties, Toronto licensing and compliance lawyer Anar Dewshi tells AdvocateDaily.com.
"The accountability always falls on the employer," says Dewshi, principal of Dewshi Law Practice in Toronto.
The lengthy Commercial Vehicle Operator's safety manual outlines the areas to which drivers and employers must comply, she says, adding the actions of drivers — including failing to properly inspect their vehicles before each trip, not logging or ensuring mechanical issues are addressed, and receiving a ticket for things such as an unsafe load — all impact an employer's CVOR (Commercial Vehicle Operating Record).
Ideally, Dewshi says a trucking company’s CVOR falls in the range of 0-12 per cent, meaning they are in compliance, but if they incur too many infractions, it could result in a revocation of their licence based on the decision of a licensing tribunal.
"Depending on where their score is on the scale, it will warrant different actions from the government," she explains.
At 30 per cent, an employer would receive a letter about the state of the compliance level urging them to correct the situation, Dewshi says. At 50 per cent, a facility audit is mandated where an inspector comes on site to look at drivers’ logs and mechanical deficiencies and whether those issues have been corrected, she says.
"When they get to 70 per cent, that will trigger an intervention by the Ministry of Transportation (MOT)," Dewshi says. "And if it keeps going up, the ministry will issue a notice of proposal to revoke their licence."
The tragedy in Saskatchewan, which saw 16 members of a high school hockey team from Humboldt killed in a bus in a collision with a tractor trailer, has made drivers and employers keenly aware of the importance of maintenance and inspection practices as well as the impact those practices have on public safety, she says.
"The most basic of all is for operators to ensure their drivers have appropriate training," advises Dewshi, noting the MOT training manual details the necessary requirements for drivers.
The manual promotes standardized testing for all commercial drivers and sets out the criteria for written and road tests identifying the key elements that will be evaluated, she says.
Dewshi also advises employers to have a safety plan in place for their drivers. Although not mandatory, she says it’s a best practice companies should follow so that if and when the ministry intervenes, they can produce their safety plan.
"A plan gives the employers and the drivers clear guidance," Dewshi says. "What they're supposed to do and when they're supposed to do it."
It is also recommended that drivers of commercial vehicles complete first-aid training and/or an occupational health and safety program, she says.
Dewshi says employers are required to regularly review drivers’ trip inspection logs to ensure that any issues with the vehicle are being reported and attended to.
"If something is wrong with tires, for example, it has to be fixed. If the driver doesn’t record it in the logbook, the employer won't know and, on the road with heavy loads, it will make the matter worse,” she says, adding the logbooks must be kept, with supporting documents, for six months and include details of the hours the driver has spent on the road.