Fleet maintenance is crucial in running a safe, efficient and cost effective transport operation. The penalties for your failure to do so, or your failure to the adherence of your Operator License requirements are severe, and can result in the closure of your business.
What follows is a brief overview of the requirements of vehicle maintenance. There is also further information within this section relating to defects and vehicle equipment, as well as many direct links to the appropriate pages on government websites for further information and downloadable content to further assist you.
Drivers and Operators must have a system in place to be able to report promptly any defects or symptoms of defects that could adversely affect the safe operation of their vehicles. To ensure full compliance, it is strongly recommended that procedural practices are in place and drivers are trained properly to ensure they are able to comply with their responsibilities. All drivers must complete the following checks prior and post taking any vehicle out:
- A daily walk round check must be undertaken by a responsible person before a vehicle is used.
- 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 made in writing and provision should be made to record details of any rectification work done.
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.
An Operators responsibilities start from the issue of the company Operator License, with maintenance intervals being laid down according to the type of operation the vehicles will be subjected to. Maintenance periods will vary according to the type of work undertaken and volume of mileage the vehicle fleet will be subjected to on a regular basis.
First-use inspections are essential for operators who lease, hire or borrow vehicles, including trailers, from other people. Inspections where vehicles and trailers have been off the road for some time are also essential. Operators must ensure that checks are made regularly of items which affect roadworthiness. This also means that responsiblity for the condition of all their vehicles (including any trailers) inspected and/or maintained upon their behalf by agents, contractors or hire companies.
Where drivers are concerned, they must be given clear, written instructions about their responsibilities, with all drivers defect reports which record any faults being kept for at least 15 months.
Safety inspections must include those items covered by the appropriate Department for Transport annual test. They should be pre-planned preferably using a time based programme and must be regularly monitored particularly in the early stages. There must be a system to ensure that unroadworthy vehicles are removed from service. Any remedial work carried out arising from safety inspections must be the subject of a written record. The safety inspection report must include:
- Vehicle details
- A list of all items to be inspected
- When and by whom the inspection is carried out
- The result of the inspection
- Details of any rectification work
- A declaration that defects have been rectified satisfactorily
On some types of vehicle and operations, intermediate safety checks may be necessary. Records of safety inspections must be kept for at least 15 months. Staff carrying out safety inspections must be competent to assess the significance of defects. Assistance must be available to operate the vehicle controls as necessary.
Those Operators who undertake their own safety inspections must have adequate facilities and tools available. They must be appropriate to the size of fleet and type of vehicle operated and there should be access to a means of measuring brake efficiency and setting headlamp aim and measuring exhaust emissions.
Operators who contract out their safety inspections must draw up, and have approved, a formal written contract with an inspection agency or
garage. Contracting out does not mean you have satisfied the requirements of your 'O' License, you are obliged to regularly
monitor the quality of work produced by your maintenance providor, by checking the Inspection Sheets returned to you, and if necessary,
discussing any points that may be noted that could require interim maintenance prior to the next safety inspection.
The dates when safety inspections are due must be the subject of forward planning. A maintenance planner or wall chart should be used to identify dates at least 6 months before safety inspections are due. Any system of maintaining the roadworthiness of vehicles should be effectively and continually monitored.
A specimen maintenance planner (flow chart) can be downloaded below and configured for your own company use.
It is important to note that any change by licensed operators to arrangements for safety inspections must be notified to the relevant Traffic Area Office(s) without delay. If this means a complete change of maintenance providor, the following must be completed in full and forwarded to the relevant Traffic Area Office:
- letter of intent to change maintenance providor
- maintenance agreement from your new providor confirming intent, detailing schedules, dates etc
- specimen safety inspection sheet
- fleet flow chart
Taking your responsibilities seriously in all aspects of your adherence to the provision of maintenance, confirms to the Traffic Commissioner(s) of your intention of good repute and that you as an operator are adhering to the conditions of your Operator License in full.
For further information relating to Vehicle Maintenance and operating a Road Safe fleet, please visit the links below.
The Safe Operators Guide - VOSA
Guide To Maintaining Roadworthiness - VOSA
Automatic Slack Adjusters (Maintenance Guide) - VOSA