Tyre tread depths

  WhiteTruckMan 09:58 21 Jan 10
Locked

Had a monumental argument with the boss at work today, such that I am spending a day at home today.

Got handed the keys to a rig I've not driven for a while, so was extra thorough in my walkround check. Discovered 2 drive axle tyres on the same hub with low tread, so whipped out my guage and measured them at a tad less than 2mm. I'ts in the company drivers handbook that all tyres will be replaced at 2mm, so instead of taking it out I filled in the defect book and took it to the office. Boss looked at it, said it needed to go out, then ripped up the defect, saying its legal down to 1mm (it is). I asked him for authorisation in writing, which he refused, so I wrote another defect out, and told him where to file this copy.

Long story short:I ended up with 2 new tyres, and the feeling I havent heard the last of this.

The point of this slightly rambling tale is that I can take a 3/4 ton mini out for a spin on 1.5mm of tread and get a FPN + points, whereas its perfectly legal to take 44tons down the road on 1mm. Which might go some way to explaining why so many of our trucks got stuck in the snow!

Ironically, over the snowy period I got stuck with a truck that had recut tyres on the drive axle. the grooves had been cut in 1 direction only, round the circumference, so there were no lateral grooves at all. For all practical purposes, racing slicks. But they wouldnt be swapped because they had 6mm of tread, and so were legal. But it wouldn't pull a greased pencil from a pigs behind, let alone a 30 ton trailer. But with great care I made (very) slow progress with it. Until a polish agency driver got his hands on it, got it stuck (in the yard), floored the loud pedal and kept it there until the tyres were down to the ply! Result: 4 new tyres, and he has more work than ever!

Makes you wonder why I even bother sometimes.

Mind how you go.

WTM

  johndrew 10:13 21 Jan 10

Technically your boss is correct click here but given road conditions at the time and the fact it is you who is responsible for the vehicle condition I am on your side.

Far too many operators are working to minimum requirements these days rather than looking at the effects on all road users.

Bit like driving on the maximum permitted level of blood alcohol really.

  Quickbeam 10:29 21 Jan 10

"Bit like driving on the maximum permitted level of blood alcohol really."
Sums it up perfectly, I replaced 3 tyre on my car in the recent snow at 3mm because I decided 3mm wasn't safe for the conditions.

  Pamy 10:45 21 Jan 10

The legal limit may be 1mm but your company has set a higher limit for changing them, this is good safety policiy, but not if they do not stick to it. This is possibly in there written health and safety policy and should be addhered to, You should have someone responsible for health and safety

  Chris the Ancient 10:58 21 Jan 10

You have my full sympathies. You (and the company) would have been in extremely mucky stuff if there had been an incident. Because limits were stated in your handbook, you would have been the first to get the blame in the event of a collision for taking the truck out outside of company policy limits. And the elf and safety fairies would have had a field day with you - especially as he had disposed of your evidence. If you had proof (somehow) that you had filled in a defect report (amazing how some pieces of paper can get 'lost') that you had filled in the report, then the company would have been hammered. You did the very right thing.

Brings to mind when I used to drive trucks (many years ago). I took a truck out on a 2-day trip and the second morning it wouldn't start coz of a flat battery. Some nice guy gave me a tow start. Took the truck back to the yard and 'snagged' it. Was asked to take it down to the yard where we parked up. On the way, the cab filled with smoke and smelled of burnt plastic. So, dutifully, I told the service guys. They checked it over and said there was nothing wrong!

I was the next driver to be scheduled with that truck, and the morning I was to take it out, it wouldn't start coz of a flat battery! They jump started it and said "Off you go!" I refused saying that there was a serious problem with that truck. They repeated their 'request' and I repeated my response. They sacked me. I didn't care, I went straight to another company (where drivers had 'their own' vehicles) and got a better pay and conditions job.

CtA

  Quickbeam 11:01 21 Jan 10

I am with you entirely as an ex trucker and a part time transport manager.

1. For the reason above.
2. As you say the company policy states that tyres be replaced at 2mm. For that to be printed in the company handbook, then it effectively becomes part of the companies H&S policy (I know I don't normally have much time for most of all that stuff). So, in your defence, I would argue that a manager was insisting that you disregard the company H&S policy, which of course is illegal.

So, if you do as you're told, you are committing a gross breach of conduct, which could result in your dismissal should you go out, have an accident, and that accident was blamed on insufficient tyre tread depth.

Your manager's refusal to put the order in writing is an admission to the severity of the offence he's asking you to commit, and personally be absolved of all responsibility should anything go wrong. i.e. he wants jam on both sides of the bread.

There's another much more serious outcome to this should VOSA ever suspect that properly entered vehicle defect sheets have been tampered with or destroyed. That would result in a full fleet examination, and possibly a hearing before the Traffic Commissioner.

The TC is a very powerful person, and can revoke, suspend or limit operating licences, centres or vehicle numbers.

I assume that you work in a large organisation and have a union. Talk to them, because your defence, if the manager doesn't want it going above his level, will be a threat to his position.

Again the TC can remove his CPC status within the company, or any others he works for, for such an offence, and in his eyes that is a very serious breach of the laid down operating rules.

  WhiteTruckMan 11:04 21 Jan 10

If there's one thing I thoroughly detest its bogus health & safety issues, and the people who take a perverse delight in creating them (eg, I have been informed that the hatfield depot has forbidden drivers to use their company fuel cards to purchase windscreen additive for their trucks because someone has read the labe of contents of the product and objected under COSHH regs. the matter is being looked into. we are expecting a ruling sometime in summer) but in this case, H&S is everyones responsibility.

Unfortunately I, along with a great many other people today, work in a cover-your-backside culture. hence although my boss was legally correct, I just dont know if he had the authority to override company policy in that respect. hence my requesting written authorisation, which was refused (but the tyres did get changed after that).

But there still exists the discrepancy in legal tread depths between a car and a juggernaut. Which makes you wonder just what the legislators were thinking when they framed those limits.

Or, more pertinantly, just who they were listening to.

WTM

  Quickbeam 11:12 21 Jan 10

"I just dont know if he had the authority to override company policy in that respect."
NO, policy is policy until it's properly reviewed. An urgent load doesn't warrant a summary policy change.

  Quickbeam 11:18 21 Jan 10

Also, in the opening line you mention that you are at home. Is this a suspension, for refusing to break company H&S policy...?

  WhiteTruckMan 11:55 21 Jan 10

Apologies for giving the wrong impression on that. I'm on my weekend rest. The spending the day at home part is meant that I'm not going out, too fed up!

I should also clarify some other points.

1-I Although I work pretty much full time for this company, I am in fact employed by an agency. As such, I can be shown the door (by this company)at a moments notice, no reason given. Which I dont want to happen, as on the whole they have been pretty good to work for(I should know, having worked for some of the bad ones in the past!) and I have hopes at permanant employment when things pick up.

2-My line manager is not actually the cpc holder. (for those who are wondering, a cpc is a certificate of professional competance, a necessary qualification for anyone wishing to hold a transport managers position, which is a legally compulsory position for any company operating trucks & buses in this country). I suspect the TM isnt aware of some of the things that are going on, but for reasons outlined in my first point I dont want to be the one to blow the whistle.

3-we all carry defect sheets. these are run off a copier, and are identical, and are for noting defects as they are found, on a daily basis. This was what was ripped up. The official defect book, with individual serial numbers is kept in the office, and is filled out by drivers when they return to the office.

WTM

  Quickbeam 12:02 21 Jan 10

"employed by an agency. As such, I can be shown the door (by this company)at a moments notice, no reason given."
Which is a whole new discussion as to how employment rights and security have been sold down the river over recent years under the pretence that they don't need such numbers of permanent employees, but in effect they employ the same number of agency staff permanently. Get Gilly Bragg on the case...

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