Does your Matey Auditor leave your business exposed to risk?
This was a question posed by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) Director Customer and Compliance Peter Wells at the recent Australian Logistics Council – Transport Safety Summit.
Quite rightly, following a spate of industry related incidents and fatalaties, Australia’s leading transport authorities are now questioning the integrity of accepted industry schemes like NHVAS Maintenance Management, WA Accreditation etc. These recognised schemes offer significant value to the industry, its supply chain and the broader community if they are followed correctly and strictly adhered to.
The future of these programs depends on these recognised schemes being able to provide the transport industry with the highest levels of assurance in managing compliance obligations. Key to this risk management is the integrity of the auditing process.
For years the tansport industry has been plagued by well meaning but inadequately trained and resourced consultant/auditors, all keen to make a buck from transport companies who are low on compliance know-how and trying to stay afloat in a highly competitive environment.
We were once requested to provide an expert opinion in a court case following a fatal truck accident. Part of our brief was to undertake a “re-audit” of the trucking company as they had assured the court that they had been audited and had been given “the tick” of approval under NHVAS Maintenance Management. We quickly found major problems with maintenance at the firm, such that a company driver was killed due to brake failure. On questioning the company, we were told that the auditor had never left the office environment and had never requested sight of maintenance records. The trucking company was delighted with their audit result and consequently kept going with their woefully inadequate maintenance regime. The result was that one person had lost his life, the business is now bankrupt. And the “auditor,” he is probably still out there…
This “matey auditor” story can be repeated across the transport industry whether it’s maintenance, mass or fatigue related. How do you recognise a “matey auditor”?
Here are some of the tell-tale signals
- They frequently offer to prepare your compliance policies and procedures. “Mate, I worked for … for 10 years, I know trucks backwards. I ran their safety policy and have a whole book of procedures. I can set you up for a special deal, then I do the audit and get you accredited.” You need that contract next month? No problem.
- The fees they charge are a quarter of the fee that guy in the suit offered last week. “Mate I work from home – no need for a flash office or stuff like that, so my overheads are really low. Besides I know how tough it is on you guys.
- They never leave the lunch room. Just give them the manuals and plenty of coffee, and they will probably be through just after lunch. They never ask for records and accept at face value everything you tell them. If your maintenance manager is “away sorting out a repair” on the day of the audit, your auditor accepts that you can’t find the log books and gives you the tick anyway. After all, the one you CAN find is correctly filled out, isn’t it?
- They freely dispense advice. A reputable auditor will not give you advice on how to rectify your problems – it is unethical to give advice and then audit the implementation of that advice.
- Your audit report fits neatly on a single page. Matey auditors don’t write long reports. After all, to write a long report takes time and the $300 fee just doesn’t allow for it. Besides, when there are no problems, what is there to say?
If you have a matey auditor, get a second opinion, and soon. If you think this is fair dinkum compliance you are deluding yourself and placing your business, your people and other road users at great risk. It is of vital importance for auditing and risk management to find a decent auditor and we have created a list for you to identify one.
How To Find Your Auditor
- Make sure they are RAB-QSA (Exemplar Global) qualified. Look them up at Exemplar Global .
- Check if they have relevant industry experience and have the right credentials for speed, mass, maintenance, load restraint and fatigue audits.
- Check with reputable associations as to the quality and consistency of their services. If they tell you “he’s easy,” run a mile.
- Expect that they will charge you a professional-level fee, commensurate with their qualifications and experience. It takes years of training and an ongoing effort, to reach a professional standard. The fee needs to take into account that they will spend 1-3 days on your site, and a similar amount of time preparing and reviewing an informative report that gives you a clear picture of the state of compliance in your business. This is their job. It is not to help you get away with poor systems.
- Ask to see their professional indemnity insurance and check that it is current. Never use an auditor that does not carry this insurance.
The use of “matey auditors” has left many transport companies – and their supply chain partners – open to unforeseen risk. It’s time to lift the bar.
Ensure that your third party audit service provider is appropriately qualified, possesses the necessary industry expertise and experience in the area of discipline. Above all ensure that there are no conflicts of interest, (consulting and auditing) and that your selected partner doesn’t do you an injustice by simply ticking the box.