On 22 April 2020, four police officers were killed when a drugged and fatigued driver fell asleep at the wheel of his truck on a Melbourne freeway and ploughed into two police cars. On 23 January 2024, over three years after the fatal collision, the National Operations Manager of Connect Logistics Pty Ltd, the company that engaged the driver, has been sentenced to three years imprisonment with a non-parole period of 12 months.
The manager, Mr. Cris Large, was found guilty of a category 1 offence under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (NHVL) for engaging, without reasonable excuse, in conduct relating to a primary safety duty under the NHVL that exposed an individual to a risk of death or serious injury and being reckless to the risk. Amongst other conduct, Mr. Large failed to ensure proper fatigue management systems were in place and complied with by workers. The NSW Downing Centre Local Court found that fatigue-related breaches were present in over 40% of driving shifts, hundreds of which were checked and endorsed by Mr. Large. According to Magistrate Daniel Reiss, Mr. Large’s offending involved ‘deliberate and deceitful’ conduct.
Three key takeaways for executives
- For executives within the heavy vehicle industry, the ruling is a critical reminder of the importance of meeting primary safety duties under NHVL to avoid the imposition of significant penalties.
- Companies and executives should review and strengthen fatigue management practices.
- Executives should also be aware that endorsing or allowing non-compliance with fatigue management practices could potentially lead to significant convictions and penalties.
Get in touch
If you need assistance navigating NHVL, our experienced team can guide you through the intricacies and help safeguard your business. For more information and a tailored breakdown of the safety standards and what your business needs to review to ensure it is compliant, reach out to Michael Tooma and Melissa Doran.
For more information, please contact Michael Tooma, Partner and Head of ESG, and Melissa Doran, Special Counsel.