PMTC, OTA and other transportation associations have worked with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation over the past several years to modernize the province’s CVOR and facility audit programs.
In 2008, changes to the CVOR program were introduced, and later in that year compulsory CVOR renewal, which will need about a two-year conversion period, took effect. The Ministry has now introduced a revamped facility audit program, effective April 2009 that is being termed a ‘modernized facility audit.’ The time taken to produce it appears to have been well spent.
The revisions made to these two programs represent a substantial overhaul of some of Ontario’s most important road safety programs.
After the heat that was generated in some quarters by the auditor general’s report, not all of which was deserved, the Ministry was due for some good news and they may have found it in the new audit program.
The new facility audit program has been carefully thought out and field tested, but despite all the up-front effort to get it right, the Ministry agreed to reviews at six-and 12-month intervals, just to make sure.
In field testing the new program, approximately 30 carriers including PMTC members participated in voluntary audits using the new protocols and all passed with flying colours.
Participants indicated that the exercise was a valuable learning experience and that the new audit format was fairer than the previous version.
The new program is based on the parts of the Highway Traffic Act and the National Safety Code for commercial vehicle operators that require them to maintain all driver and vehicle records within a prescribed time period and make them available to a facility auditor when requested.
We expect that audits will now be focused on carriers that have exceeded 50% of their CVOR threshold (estimated to be about 5% of carriers), which is exactly where the focus ought to be in our view.
This is another reason for carriers to keep their CVOR in good shape. Audits may also be conducted as the result of a specific incident or a developing trend in a carrier’s record, or if a carrier volunteers for an audit – and yes, there are good reasons for volunteering.
The goal of the revised program is to harmonize Ontario’s facility audit with federal inter-jurisdictional requirements and to make it a better and fairer evaluation of industry safety management practices.
The new audit shifts direction to focus on a carrier’s safety management program, while the old facility audit was a performance-based assessment of the on-road activity of an operator.
The modernized facility audit is described as a risk-based assessment of the elements known to cause or contribute to commercial motor vehicle (CMV) collisions.
To reduce the likelihood of CMV collisions, the modernized facility audit will examine the operator’s safety management controls that are in place to ensure that: drivers are qualified (ie. properly licensed); that they conduct the proper equipment inspections and report deficiencies; and that they are compliant with the hours-of-service regulations.
The total scores of these three profiles make up a carrier’s safety rating. Each profile represents the percentage of overall compliance that the carrier has achieved and each profile consists of sub-sections weighted according to the level of risk to road safety.
The Ministry has also prepared a short guide entitled How to Prepare for a Facility Audit, a copy of which is available from the PMTC office.
Here at the PMTC, we believe that the revised facility audit: is a fairer approach that takes in to account the carrier’s entire safety management program, rather than focusing simply on things that may have gone wrong; places less emphasis on administrative omissions that do not directly affect safety; and will focus on carriers that have not demonstrated good on-road performance.
To help members prepare for the introduction of this new facility audit and its emphasis on safety management practices, recent PMTC seminars and magazine articles have covered subjects such as How Safety Management Programs Work, Identifying High Risk Drivers and Preventing Roadway Collisions, helping members develop and implement effective safety management programs.
The next step in the continuing overhaul of Ontario’s CMV road safety programs will be the development of a training program for new entrants to the trucking industry, a program that will be used to ensure that new operators know and apply the rules.
In our view, CVOR renewal, the modernized facility audit, and the new entrant training program represent solid advancements in the cause of road safety in Ontario.
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