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Enforcement of Dangerous Goods Regulations

Enforcement of Dangerous Goods Regulations

In the Autumn issue of Truck and Track, Richard Shreeve, Labeline’s Compliance Manager, discussed the enforcement of the Dangerous Goods Regulations.

In this article he reports from a police commercial vehicle checkpoint on the M6.

It was a privilege to be invited to attend a chilly November day at Sandbach services observing Police Officers as they carried out their vehicle inspections. The operation was managed and hosted by the Commercial Vehicle Unit (CVU) of the North West Motorway Police Group, who were joined by enforcement officers from around the country. Vehicles bearing orange ADR placards were, at random, directed to a designated area alongside the services. Once parked, an officer would approach the driver, check their credentials, and conduct a thorough check of the vehicle and its load.

One of the first vehicles that came in was a 5-ton truck normally used for carrying lithium batteries. On this occasion, however, the load consisted of batteries that were not classified as dangerous goods, yet the orange ADR plates were on display. There were a couple of other similar breaches during the day and, each time, officers explained to the driver the importance of not showing placards when dangerous goods are not being carried – for example, if a vehicle with orange placards were involved in an incident, it would be considered a greater risk and treated differently by the emergency services.

For some of the day I ”shadowed” PC Chris Leah from Norfolk Constabulary. Chris has a particular process that he follows when undertaking an ADR vehicle check. Firstly, he wants to know if the driver is qualified, insured and licenced to drive the vehicle, so he would look at the driver’s documents, including driving licence, ADR certificate and the tachograph readings.

Chris then inspects the paperwork relating to the load. The “Instructions in Writing” must be the current version and be immediately accessible. The Dangerous Goods Note (DGN)/Transport Document must also be be readily available, complete, and compliant. 

Having already scanned the vehicle on its arrival, it’s now time for Chris to check it over more thoroughly. After assessing the overall condition of the vehicle and markings, Chris checks that the fire extinguishers are as prescribed and within the latest test expiry date, and that the ADR spill kit is complete and in good order.

Finally, it’s time to take a close look at what is being carried. The content of the load is checked against the DGN, then it is inspected to see if it has been secured and loaded in accordance with the regulations. Hazard labels and markings must comply with ADR and, if necessary, the manuals (purchased from Labeline) are consulted to check that product classification and packing instructions etc. have been followed.

Chris emphasised the importance of having a set procedure: “We each have our specific ways of carrying out the checks to make sure that we cover all bases. However, all the information gathered is recorded on the National 10/500 form, which is the mandatory reference and reporting document.

“These organised days give officers the chance to learn on their feet and help to provide a consistent approach to enforcement across the country.” 

As the sun was going down, the last vehicle arrived. It had a trailer full of large sacks containing a Class 5.1 (Oxidizer). The sacks were not secured, even though the company had invested in specialist equipment specifically for this task. 

48% Non-Compliance

All the vehicles were pulled in at random, without any prior intelligence. In all, 21 vehicles were checked during the day, 10 of which were not in order. These were the primary infringements: 

3 x Insecure loads

1 x Emergency contact number obscured

3 x Orange boards displayed when the vehicle was not in scope of ADR

1 x UN numbers missing from overpacks

1 x No shovel

1 x Missing Fire extinguisher

When it comes to enforcing the regulations, the Police try to take a pragmatic view and take appropriate action to prevent a recurrence. For example, four of the above situations were managed by engaging with the driver, explaining the non-compliance, giving words of advice, and contacting the company concerned and/or its DGSA. There were, however, three traffic offence reports issued and three prohibition notices.

These statistics highlight the very worryingly high rate of non-compliance and, unfortunately, similar results are not uncommon whenever these operations are conducted. Consequently, the frequency of ADR checks is increasing across the country and all Police Forces are scaling up their resources and capability in this area. 

The enforcement officers who inspect the vehicles are highly trained, usually qualified Dangerous Goods Safety Advisors (DGSAs), and are members of the national CDG Practitioners Forum (CDGPF). Under the UK’s CDG Regulations, they have special enforcement powers and can:

  • process the offence for prosecution by the courts.
  • issue a Prohibition Notice (PN) – these can be deferred, for example, to give time for the driver to replace a non-compliant fire extinguisher. PN’s are listed on the enforcement pages of the HSE website.
  • refer the offence to the Traffic Commissioner (TC), who can revoke the vocational licence of the driver and/or the operating licence of the company. The TC also has the authority to initiate a Public Inquiry. For lesser offences, formal contact with the driver and the Transport Manager at the Company may be deemed sufficient.

CDGPF Meeting

Terry Harvey and Jason Dearsley are, respectively, the Chair and Vice-Chair of the national CDGPF and, the day after the vehicle check, they ran the November meeting of the forum in the conference room at the Chemical Business Association (CBA) in Crewe.

Terry highlighted a complex incident that he recently dealt with in Suffolk involving a tanker towing a gas tank. It raised the importance of using all the contacts and resources available to officers. 

Jason then covered the activity of the previous day’s policing and summarised the findings. He emphasised that some of the failings are often down to the culture in a company, but the drivers have the ultimate responsibility:

“From an enforcement perspective, the most frustrating aspect of the breaches we came across yesterday is that every one of them could have been avoided if the driver had done their obligatory walkaround check thoroughly before driving off.”

He added “With such a high rate of non-compliance, the CDGPF will continue to educate and enforce in this highly specialised area of roads policing. We will encourage forces to upskill and work in collaboration so we may support industry and our economy whilst keeping our communities safe.”

Digital Formats

Recent guidance from DfT gives the driver up to 2 minutes to produce the appropriate Instructions in Writing, so it is important that the document is easily to hand – and not tucked away in the ADR kit as has been known!

Terry spoke about the use of digital DG documentation, including Instructions in Writing. Digital versions of DGN’s, such as those generated by Labeline’s DGOffice software, offer greater flexibility, accuracy, and ease of use. However, Terry emphasised that the device on which the data is held must not be pin-locked and the documents must be able to be printed – even if this is back at the operator’s or consignor’s office. 

In all, 19 Police Forces from across the UK were represented over the two days, and they were joined by representatives from DfT, National Highways, HSE (NI), DVSA, Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), British Association of Dangerous Goods Professionals (BADGP), British Compressed Gasses Association (BCGA), CBA and the wider dangerous goods industry.

About Labeline…

Worldwide, Labeline International has maintained its position as the leading authorised distributor for the regulations covering the transport of dangerous goods by road, rail, sea and air. 

As the only authorised reseller in UK and Ireland for all modes of transport, Labeline is at the forefront of compliance when it comes to dangerous goods and stocks 1,000’s of UN, IMO, IATA and ICAO publications.

Labeline, for all your Dangerous Goods compliance needs: 

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