For this discussion on maintenance we’ll start by addressing the Land Transport Rules that focus on the maintenance of heavy vehicles including their repair and modification. These Rules include the HV Brakes Rule, the Heavy Vehicle Rule and the Vehicle Repair Rule among others.

These Rules all put responsibilities on both operators and repairers of heavy vehicles. For operators, they are required to ensure that their vehicles comply with the relevant Rule while repairers must ensure that any repair they undertake does not prevent the vehicle they have repaired continuing to comply with the Rule and are carried out within the bounds of that Rule and the requirements of the Vehicle Repair Rule. This Rule requires that;

A repair to a vehicle, its structure, systems, components or equipment, must restore the damaged or worn vehicle, structure, system, component or equipment so that they are within safe tolerance of the state of the vehicle, structure, system, component or equipment when manufactured.

Safe tolerance is defined as the tolerance within which the safe performance of the vehicle, its structure, systems, components or equipment are not compromised, having regard to any manufacturer’s operating limits.  In other words; ‘as new’.

As an operator, you may not be aware of all the mechanical vagaries of your vehicles or know the full requirements to maintain them, but, under the Rules, you are responsible for their continuing compliance. So, if your maintenance service provider cuts corners without your knowledge and provides you with a sub-standard repair you will be the one held accountable in the first instance and its you who will receive the offence notice.  

As a repairer you can be held accountable for a ‘fix’ that does not meet the definition of a repair in the Rule as detailed above even if the operator requires that you only do enough to keep his vehicle mobile if not compliant or safe.

So, as you can see, both the repairer and the operator can be held accountable for sub standard repairs and the best way to protect yourself, whether an operator or repairer, is to work to a comprehensive fleet preventative maintenance programme.

Next time we’ll talk about the differences between minimum compliance (CoF) and safe tolerance