Information For New Operators: Part 3 - Audits and VOSA

When your Operators licence is granted by the Traffic Commissioners a VOSA inspector will visit your site (typically) within about 6 months. When on site they will perform an initial audit of your business and look for evidence that certain vehicle management processes are in place (such as, pre-use inspections, defect reporting & tachograph analysis, for example).

You need to have the basics in place BEFORE the visit by VOSA. If you do, then their view of your organisation will be greatly improved. If VOSA finds no evidence of these processes during the inspection and no evidence that you are complying with operator licensing they can refer the case to the Traffic Commissioners who can call you to public inquiry where your licence can be curtailed or even revoked. This would be a real killer to a business that has just started operating vehicles.

You can get the basic processes required by law in place quickly and easily with OLMCís Operator Licence Protection. It provides all the guidance and processes a business needs to get up and running with operator licensing, it costs just £25 per week.

One point really worth noting is that during their enforcement and audit operations, VOSA have more power and rights of entry and seizure than the Police. The police require warrants to enter a premises and seize documents, VOSA do not. This might sound amazing but if they wish, VOSA can walk into your offices, demand access to all your historical tachograph data, take it away for analysis and fine all your drivers for any tachograph offences found. If you refuse, you will receive huge fines and very likely lose your operator licence. Also, whilst there, they can inspect any vehicles parked up and issue defect notices and graduated fixed penalties.

OK, we were scaremongering a bit there, the above scenario is unlikely but legally speaking, it could happen and it demonstrates the level of power that VOSA does have.

Knowing this should give you some idea of the serious attitude that VOSA has towards enforcement of operator licensing and how important it is to have a basic level of compliance and the basic processes in place.

Unfortunately however we tell it, itís difficult to talk about VOSA without making them sound like the bad guys. The reality is that their activities are proven to increase vehicle safety and decrease accidents and deaths on the roads. Their inspections and audits are there to catch operators that care nothing for other road users and use HGV vehicles in an irresponsible and un-safe manner and they promote a culture of improvement within vehicle operators. In other words, VOSA are out to get the bad guys and the licence holders that do not compliant with operator licensing.

The big question is. How do you avoid looking like a bad guy in the eyes of VOSA ?

The next article will talk about how VOSA can tell the good vehicle operators from the bad and how they make sure they donít waste time targeting operators that are compliant with operator licensing.

As always, feel free to comment and ask questions about this article below

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