A Transport Systems Audit can help protect your O Licence

A Transport Systems Audit can help protect your O Licence

A Transport Systems Audit can help protect your O Licence

Many Operators are unaware of how easily they could lose their O Licence. "If you come to the attention of a Traffic Commissioner for the wrong reasons, you will find that your business comes under very close scrutiny in every aspect," says Novadata Chairman Derek Broomfield. "Commissioning your own Transport Systems & O Licence Audit, conducted by an experienced transport professional, can alert you to any weaknesses in your processes and allow you to address them. Once you have strengthened your compliance, if you do ever face an inspection, you can pass with flying colours."

Requests for Novadata Transport Systems Audits are on the increase as the legislation surrounding the transport industry becomes increasingly complex. This is a good sign, as it indicates that more Operators are being proactive about their compliance with their undertakings. Others, however, are clearly sleepwalking towards disaster.

Among the most common risks that Operators are taking with their O Licence is in having weak or non-existent systems and processes to demonstrate their compliance. It is essential that both Operators and drivers understand the implications of simple things like ensuring that the daily vehicle walkaround check is completed and that accurate records of each check are kept.

Tachograph usage is still a major issue as many drivers fail to complete manual entries correctly or to switch modes, between driving, work and rest at the appropriate times. It is easy, if you are not properly trained, to create a false record of the working day inadvertently. However accidentally the false record is created, it still constitutes a breach of the law.

Drivers who do not have a valid Driver Qualification Card (DQC) because they fail to renew their Driver CPC before their renewal deadline are also a threat to the O Licence. A driver being caught with an expired DQC can result in a Public Inquiry, and that will bring every aspect of the organisation under intense scrutiny. Any areas in which the undertakings have not been fulfilled can lead to the loss of the O Licence, which usually means the collapse of the business. It is essential, therefore, to plan well ahead for drivers to renew their Driver CPC training.

Another common mistake is failing to notify the Traffic Commissioner of a change of address of premises," warns Derek Broomfield. "Even if you only move from one industrial unit to another on the same trading or industrial estate, you must notify your change of address to the Traffic Commissioner."

Companies with more than one depot must be vigilant if the depots fall under the jurisdiction of different Traffic Commissioners. If, for example, you have one depot in Norwich and another in Glasgow, you must have a separate O Licence for each depot. And there are plenty of other ways to fall foul of legislation.

A Transport Systems Audit will pick up any failings in fulfilling the O Licence undertakings, so that these faults can be corrected and the Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS) can be brought up to a healthy level, before the company comes to the attention of a Traffic Commissioner.

"You only have to drop a few points on your OCRS to put your O Licence and your business at risk," says Derek Broomfield. "Often, we meet Operators who have been ordered by a Traffic Commissioner to attend an O Licence Awareness course, as we are an OCR approved centre. However, it is very unwise to wait until you appear before a Traffic Commissioner to address whether your systems are robust enough. The Traffic Commissioner can choose simply to suspend or withdraw your O Licence, and that can bring your business to an instant standstill. It just is not worth the risk.

"The more prudent approach is to commission your own Transport Systems & O Licence Audit and discover where any weaknesses lie, so you can put robust systems in place. Hopefully that will be sufficient to ensure that you never do come to the attention of the Traffic Commissioners."

Find out more about the Transport Systems & O Licence Audit here.