The Big Haul

Defect Reporting & Systems

Introduction
Failure to implement a procedure to undertake a daily walk round check (first use inspection) leaves you as the operator liable for any consequences that arise as a result of your driver(s) being stopped at a VOSA road side check. Far more serious would be the situation where, one of your vehicles was involved in a Road Traffic Accident and the vehicle in question was found to have a defect (or defects) that may have contributed to the resultant accident. In all situations, the defect does not necessarily have to be of a mechanical nature, it could equally be one of overloading/insecure load or as a result of defective tyres.

In the VOSA 'Safe Operator Guide', it clearly states your obligation as an operator where defects are concerned, specifically that you must write a report of the fault and of the correction made and keep this report with the other documents relating to that vehicle. It is suggested you keep these records for at least 15 months.
Any failings on your part to comply with those obligations you signed and agreed to when you were granted your Operators License may result in the possibility of you facing a Public Inquiry, if those failings are persistent.

Daily Walk Round Check
A responsible person must undertake a daily walkaround check (first use inspection) before a vehicle is used. All drivers, must carry out the check before they first drive the vehicle on the road each day. Assistance may be required at some time during the inspection, for example to see that all lights (especially brake lights) are working. Alternatively, a brake pedal application tool may be used as an effective way of making sure stop lamps are working and that the braking system is free of leaks. In addition, a torch, panel lock key or other equipment may be needed.
First-use inspections are essential for operators who lease, hire or borrow vehicles. These are especially important where vehicles and trailers have been off the road for some time. Drivers must be able to report promptly any defects or symptoms of defects that could adversely affect the safe operation of vehicles. Reports must be recorded and provision should be made to record details of any rectification work done.

Upon a driver completing a daily walk round check, if any defects are found, they should (where possible) be rectified before the vehicle is used on a public road. In instances where repairs can be made on the spot, these usually include such items as a bulb not working, broken rear lamp lens, a tyre requiring replacement or where a technician can attend and effect a repair, these should be undertaken promptly.
In circumstances where a repair cannot be carried out at the vehicles location (be it on the road or at a depot), the vehicle should be recovered to a repair centre to be repaired if the defect would consititute a serious safety issue if it were to be used. In cases such as this, under no circumstances should a vehicle be moved where a defect is found that renders the vehicle to be in an unroadworthy condition and unfit to be driven on a public highway.
Where a defect is found, and is such that the vehicle can be driven safely to a repairing centre, then this is acceptable, as long as the vehicle is not used to carry out it's normal function by deviating to a customers premises to load/unload whilst on route.

Upon completion of a defect report, the report sheet should be taken with the driver. In the event of that driver being stopped at a VOSA road-side check, he/she will likely be asked for the same. Upon completion of the drivers daily duties, the defect report sheet should be finalised, noting any defect(s) that may have been found, or if none, then 'Nil' should be noted in the section where a defect(s) would normally be entered. Regardless of either, the report sheet should be signed off by the driver.
If a driver has only completed a days journey where the start and finish points are at the drivers home base, the defect report sheet should be handed in to a responsible person in the traffic office. Where any minor defect(s) found during the course of that days work have been recorded by the driver, these should then be brought to the attention of a responsible person in the traffic office and the defect(s) must be rectified before the vehicle is used again. In the case of a driver finding a serious defect during the course of the working day, the driver must find a safe place to stop and contact his/her home base immediately.

To further assist you and your drivers in specifically noting what should be checked during a drivers daily walk round check, VOSA have produced an HGV poster guide which we strongly recommend, it can be downloaded from the link below.

Guide To Maintaining Roadworthiness - HGV Item Poster PDF logo

Responsibility
The responsibility for the vehicle and the safe operation of the same must ultimately fall to the following company employees:

NB. it should be noted here, that if a driver drives more than one vehicle each day, a daily walk round check and defect sheet must be completed for each vehicle.

In the case of an owner driver, the onus lies with the owner driver and/or any driver who may be employed to cover his/her absence, and will follow the points above. Responsibility for the vehicle and its safety compliance will lay at the door of both the license holder and the driver.

The person made responsible by the operator (or any person acting upon instruction from an operators deputy) must carry out a minimum of one check in 24 hours upon the vehicle in his/her care. The check should consist of a walkaround look over the whole vehicle or combination. On multi-trailer operations a defect check should be made on each trailer being used. The check should cover the external condition, ensuring in particular that the lights, tyres, wheel fixings, bodywork, trailer coupling, load and ancillary equipment are serviceable.

There must be a system of reporting and recording faults that may affect the roadworthiness of the vehicle and having them put right before the vehicle is used. Daily defect checks are vital, and the results of such checks should be recorded. It is important that enough time is allowed for the completion of these checks and that staff are encouraged and trained to carry them out thoroughly. Drivers should be made aware that daily defect reporting is one of the critical elements of any effective vehicle roadworthiness system.
If you are the user of the vehicle, it is your responsibility to ensure that any hired, leased or borrowed vehicle is in a roadworthy condition and has all the necessary certification when used on the road. Therefore it is essential that you do a daily walkaround check (as described previously) before any such vehicle is used. It is your responsibility to be able to provide maintenance records covering the period of use. Furthermore, if a vehicle has been off the road for a period longer than between planned maintenance inspections, it should be given a full safety inspection, prior to being brought back into use.

Drivers Defect Reports
Every driver is responsible for the condition of his/her vehicle when in use on the road. When a vehicle is on site work, a walk around the vehicle to identify any defects that may have occured whilst in use on uneven terrain should be a regular part of that drivers responsibilities. If any defects are found, the vehicle must not be used on the road until it is repaired. A written report noting any defects found during the daily check while the vehicle is in use or on its return to base must be made by the driver.

The details recorded on a defect report sheet should include:

A simple defect check sheet for carrying out a daily walk round check can be downloaded at the link below. It is in excel format and can be modified to suit your own type of transport operation.

Vehicle Defect Report Sheet
Example Defect Sheet

It is common practice to use a composite form that also includes a list of the items checked each day. It is advisable that where practicable the system should incorporate 'Nil' reporting when each driver makes out a report sheet - or confirms by another means that a daily check has been carried out and no defects found. Electronic records of reported defects are acceptable and must be available for 15 months along with any record of repair.

'Nil' defect reports, if they are produced, should be kept for as long as they are useful. Normally this is until the next one is received or until the next scheduled safety inspection is undertaken. Although 'Nil' defect reports are not required under the conditions of operator licensing, we would advocate keeping and filing them, as they are a useful means of checking that drivers are carrying out their duties in this respect.
If you are an owner-driver, you will probably not have anyone to report defects to, except to your transport manager (if you have one). In these cases, defects can simply be recorded and held for at least 15 months, along with the information regarding the rectification of the defect(s) in question.
Drivers must be able to report any defects or symptoms of defects that could prevent the safe operation of the vehicles. In addition to daily checks you must monitor the roadworthiness of your vehicle(s) when being driven and be alert to any indication that the vehicle is developing a fault (e.g. warning lights, exhaust emitting too much smoke, vibrations) or other symptoms.

All drivers defect reports must be given to a responsible person with sufficient authority to ensure that any appropriate action is taken. This might include taking the vehicle out of service. Any report listing defects is part of the vehicle’s maintenance record and must be kept, together with details of the remedial action taken, for at least 15 months.

Further Reading
For further information concerning safe vehicle operation including defect reporting, please use the links below:

Guide for Goods Operators 2009 (GV 74) - VOSA PDF logo
The Safe Operators Guide - VOSA PDF logo

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