Stan Semenoff Logging Ltd (SSL) has hit back at statements made by the New Zealand Transport Agency about the company’s safety record, saying that offences made by the company were minor and that it has only had four speeding tickets in four years.

 

A statement from a spokesman for the company challenged the legal action wrought by the agency, claiming that it is not warranted given the company’s history of looking out for its employees and keeping them safe.

 

Semenoff's statement says the business only had four speeding tickets in four years, and that the 116 offences quoted by the NZTA were mostly minor roadside inspection infringements.

 

"NZTA legal counsel Steve Haszard has stated Stan Semenoff Logging has been guilty of 116 'speed and traffic-related offences' over a four-year period. Fact: SSL notes nine traffic offences: four speeding tickets, two for not wearing a seatbelt, two for not displaying the [license] number on the windscreen, one for failing to give way," the Stan Semenoff Logging statement says.

 

"The 116 offences refer to roadside inspection infringements. None of these was a safety issue. These are for minor Certificate of Fitness defects and in no case was the truck ordered off the road. In every instance, the vehicle was allowed to continue its trip to Marsden Point to deliver its logs," the company statement reads.

 

Shane Jones, Regional Economic Development and Associate Transport Minister last week said he was worried about NZTA action against the transporter.

 

"I'm concerned about the economic implications flowing from issues between NZTA and Semenoff Logging," said Jones.

 

As reported in earlier editions of Road Torque, the agency has noted repeatedly that it wants to revoke SSL’s transport service licence as a myriad of offences have been deemed to be persistent within the business.

 

Meredith Connell managing partner Steve Haszard, who has been overseeing NZTA's regulatory compliance, says the entity has been strongly encouraging SSL since 2016 to get the company to raise its safety standards.

 

"The Transport Agency has given Stan Semenoff Logging every opportunity to provide evidence of improvement, but over the course of two audits and three years we have seen that this company is either unwilling or unable to comply with the necessary transport operator safety standards," Haszard says.

 

"The revocation is a safety decision, plain and simple. It's not just about the safety of Mr Semenoff's drivers, it's about the safety of all Northland's other road users," he says.

 

"As with every revocation we enforce, we know this will have an impact on those people employed by the company, and that is why we have made every effort to extensively engage with Mr Semenoff to avoid getting to this point," Haszard's statement said.

 

"It was ultimately up to Stan Semenoff Logging to avoid this situation by demonstrating safety improvement. We were given many assurances from his company that standards would be lifted, but in the end, they weren't," Haszard said.

 

The Semenoff statement issued to the NZ Herald emphasised the company workload: "Each year SSL vehicles make 30,000 trips between the forest and Marsden Point, a total of 4.8 million kms of travel. SSL is proud of its safety record and has never had an injury accident. SSL has a four-star safety rating under NZTA's criteria – the exact same rating as Fonterra."

 

The business also addressed breaches of work time and rest time rules: "The longest SSL drivers can be behind the wheel continuously is three hours. It is not possible to drive 5.5 hours in Northland. Heading north from Marsden Point, they will drive off Cape Reinga long before the time is up. Heading south from the forest they will find themselves in the Waikato.

 

"Responsible operators ensure drivers can have rest breaks where there are restrooms and access to hot and cold drinks. For SSL and other logging firms in Northland, these areas are in the forest and at the port," the company statement reads.

 

On March 22, the company won a temporary stay on its license revocation in the High Court at Auckland.

Posted on Thursday 11th April 2019

Semenoff Hits Back at Transport Agency

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