Novadata joins new Senior Traffic Commissioner’s call for greater vigilance on Operator Licences

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Novadata joins new Senior Traffic Commissioner’s call for greater vigilance on Operator Licences

Leading transport training provider Novadata has joined a call by newly appointed Senior Traffic Commissioner, Richard Turfitt, for company directors to make maintaining and protecting their Operator Licences a far higher priority. Speaking at a recent meeting of transport professionals, Mr Turfitt said that, in future, Traffic Commissioners bringing companies to Public Enquiries may ask for copies of board meeting minutes and agendas, to see whether O Licencing was on the agenda, discussed at the meeting, and what action points were decided.  

"We couldn’t agree more with Mr Turfitt’s recommendation that the Operator Licence should be an item on the agenda of every board meeting,” says Novadata Managing Director Su Winch. "When the O Licence application is made, it is signed by a company director and it is a legally binding commitment to fulfil its undertakings. These include vehicle maintenance, observing drivers’ hours regulations, correct tachograph use and robust record keeping. 

"However, in many companies with transport managers, the board of directors simply delegates all responsibility for the Licence, even though it is as fundamental to the operation of the company as an accurate set of accounts or making a company return.Increasingly, directors are being called to Public Enquiries to be held accountable for things that have gone wrong, because their name is on the Licence. Board directors can no longer afford to leave everything to one individual and not discuss O Licence compliance as a key part of business management.

"Companies with a Restricted Operator Licence, where there is no designated transport manager, face just as great a challenge, but they have to fulfil all the same obligations without the benefit of training for a Management CPC qualification. Managing the Restricted O Licence will fall to one of the directors, who may well not understand what is involved and may fall foul of the law without realising. Fellow directors may not be aware of what the legal responsibilities are, or whether they are being carried out. 

"We often meet companies only when they have come to the attention of a Traffic Commissioner for all the wrong reasons.Far too many have barely given a thought to their O Licence for a long time, even though the loss of it may result in the failure of their entire business. 

"If you have never taken a Management CPC qualification, but have responsibility for maintaining a Restricted Operator Licence, you should be signing up for Operator Licence Awareness training as soon as possible. Equally, if you do have a Management CPC qualification, but you gained it more than a couple of years ago, you should also seriously consider taking a Management CPC refresher course. Best practice does change from time to time, and making sure you are up to date on it is best way to protect your O Licence, your business and your livelihood,” she adds. 

Operator Awareness training and management CPC refresher courses are formulated to help to identify areas in which company processes may be weak, or where incorrect practices have been adopted, so that this can be corrected, and strong compliance processes can be put in place. Companies that have struggled to maintain a healthy Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS) are often required by a Traffic Commissioner to take one of these courses, which must be completed at an ORC approved centre, to help improve future behaviour. 

Mr Turfitt, who takes up the role of Senior Traffic Commissioner on 1stJune, outlined the sort of vigilance he expects from directors of companies who hold either a Standard or Restricted Operator Licence, indicating that the Licence should be discussed often and that processes should be reviewed frequently in order to ensure that the company is operating legally and in accordance with best practice. 

The Traffic Commissioners themselves are strengthening their processes by requesting minutes of board meetings and requiring company directors to attend Public Enquiries. They are also clamping down on companies relying on vehicle maintenance providers to ensure compliance, and want to see robust company processes that will ensure that the protection and maintenance of the O Licence as a whole comes from within the company, rather than being delegated to suppliers.

"Companies with Restricted O Licences and no transport manager, in particular, all too often fail to use their tachographs correctly, or to fill out accurate time sheets or keep records properly; far too many simply don’t realise how serious this is,” warns Su Winch."And this is often just the tip of the iceberg. Because their core business is something other than transport or logistics, many companies find it difficult to focus on fulfilling their O Licence undertakings; but they are just sleepwalking towards disaster if they take this attitude.”

Novadata, which is often called in to help companies who have come to the attention of the Traffic Commissioners for not having the correct processes and systems in place, agrees that a healthy Operator Compliance Score should be near the top of the board’s agenda. "Mr Turfitt is absolutely right. If your business depends on having an Operator Licence, or a restricted Operator Licence, making sure you don’t lose it should be as important as offering a good product or service,” says Ms Winch. 

Novadata is one of the UK’s leading providers of transport training, its trainers recruited from the ranks of transport professionals with many years’ experience of running transport businesses."We recommend you tap into our knowledge, before you’re tapped on the shoulder by the authorities,” Ms Winch concludes.


Story By: Novadata

Date : 31-05-2017


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