The transport industry is one of Australia’s largest and, while it’s a valuable contributor to the country’s gross domestic product, it also possesses its own unique set of risks and hazards.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are more than 3 million commercial vehicles on the country’s roads. With the diverse range of loads these vehicles carry, incorrect or negligent management of any dangerous goods can result in public liability injury claims if something goes wrong.
A recent event in NSW illustrated the extent of the damage these events could cause, especially when dangerous goods or products are involved.
Illegal goods create public liability risk
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in NSW reported on a recent incident where a truck was found to be carrying a substance which could have caused public harm had their been a leak or vehicle accident.
When transport companies around Australia carry and distribute dangerous goods, they are required to display signs which indicate this is the case. There are a range of different signs and symbols for the variety of dangerous goods they may need to transport.
On top of this, the drivers of these vehicles must be licensed accordingly, ensuring they’re equipped to handle the respective goods in a safe manner. If a driver does possess the necessary qualifications, and a truck isn’t labelled correctly, it can add danger for a range of people, from the general public to professionals that inspect the vehicle.
In this particular case, the truck in question – a sizeable B-Double petrol tanker – possessed none of the required documentation, creating a notable safety risk for the motorists it encountered and the inspectors that found the discrepancy.
EPA Hunter Manager Adam Gilligan further explained the reason for the prosecution, stating that the company and its driver created unnecessary risk through its actions.
“Appropriate dangerous goods transport documentation is vital, particularly in the case of an accident or incident,” he said.
“In these circumstances, it is critical that Police and other emergency services have the correct information so that officers are not placed at risk and appropriate response actions can be implemented.”
Subsequently, the offending company and its driver were fined due to the combination of offences and the potential for disaster they created. However, the outcome could have been much worse if something had gone wrong.
Public liability cases are just one example of the cases the lawyers at Gerard Malouf and Partners manage. Contact the team to find out more.