Last reviewed 8 April 2019
Richard Pelly and Christopher Wagner of Pellys Transport & Regulatory Law look at the importance of nominated transport managers ensuring their knowledge are up to date.
What do Socrates, William Butler Yeats, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford and Abraham Lincoln have in common?
Apart from each being considered to be a master of his respective field, each is responsible for having stated the value of life-long learning and education in the form of a single phrase — a phrase thought to be profound enough to become a “quotable” maxim for the modern age (it was Einstein, for example, who said “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death”).
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) may be a relatively modern concept in corporate jargon terms, but the rationale behind CPD is precisely what each member of this illustrious list had in mind. The idea is, after all, a simple one: learning never stops; one’s knowledge, even in one’s chosen field of expertise, can never be complete.
The completion of a set number of CPD hours every year can be a stipulated requirement. Lawyers, doctors and accountants must all expect to have to keep on learning throughout their careers.
While there may not be a regulatory obligation for nominated transport managers or the holders of Certificates of Professional Competence (CPCs) who are not presently nominated on any operator’s licence to submit an annual record of CPD hours completed, it is nevertheless important that one stays up to date.
The importance of up-to-date knowledge
The role of a transport manager is a statutory one; the job description is enshrined in law. The headline is that a nominated transport manager is charged with the responsibility to “effectively and continuously” manage the transport activities of any operator’s licenced undertaking for which they are nominated. That effective and continuous management includes ensuring that the transport undertaking keeps a long list of promises to the Traffic Commissioner, many of them designed to provide reassurance that the operator will run its vehicles lawfully and safely.
While the transport management CPC qualification is designed to ensure that anyone who obtains it possesses the knowledge they need to meet the professional competence requirement, the reality is that (subject to a loss of professional competence), a transport manager is currently only required to take the exam once. It follows, particularly where the qualification was achieved some years ago (and even more likely when the CPC was acquired through grandfather rights rather than by examination), that a transport manager’s knowledge of the regulatory regime and what is expected to run a fully compliant operation can become outdated if efforts are not made to ensure that a transport manager’s knowledge remains up to date.
To be able to keep the promises made upon the grant of an O-licence effectively and continuously requires a transport manager’s knowledge to be current (and to remain so). As in many other industries, the road transport sector is an ever-changing beast; technology changes, standards change, understanding changes, best-practice guidance changes — and most fundamentally, the law itself changes. It must follow that the people who, in legal terms, hold a vital role in managing the whole undertaking compliantly, have to move with the times.
Traffic Commissioner expect transport managers to undertake CPD to ensure their knowledge is up to date and to undertake CPD every five years. There are also circumstances in which the Commissioner is almost certain to require evidence that a transport manager has completed his or her relevant CPD — in particular, in cases where an intended transport manager has not been nominated on an O-licence within the last five years or who holds a CPC qualification obtained over 10 years ago.
The currency of a transport manager’s knowledge — worded explicitly in terms of a transport manager being able to demonstrate relevant CPD — is a specific checklist item on both DVSA maintenance and traffic assessment audits, and any transport manager who is unable to demonstrate that their knowledge is up to date may attract an “unsatisfactory” finding. Too many unsatisfactory findings can lead to an operator being called up to a public inquiry — and of course, if a transport manager’s knowledge is not up to date, the chances are that there will be other compliance failings.
It follows that it is not unusual for the core failings that trigger a call up to a public inquiry to be attributed, at least in part, to a transport manager’s failures to manage things effectively — and potentially, all for want of an update to the transport manager’s training.
And where the transport manager’s own failings are held to be largely responsible for the operator’s failings, then the transport manager’s own repute is in jeopardy, too. A transport manager’s failure to ensure that they are up to date may go directly to his or her repute, and in the worst cases, a transport manager can lose his or her repute and with it, their livelihood, due to failures that would have been avoided if they had had refresher training.
Not having been to a refresher training course for years, and thus not knowing what was required, is unlikely to be accepted by a Traffic Commissioner as a good excuse for presiding over non-compliance.
Ways to train
There are a number of ways in which transport managers can ensure that their knowledge remains up to date:
CPC refresher training courses
Where operators attend public inquiries, Traffic Commissioners are sometimes willing to accept undertakings that refresher training courses will be attended by transport managers — so it is clear that the Traffic Commissioners attach value to such courses.
Subject-specific training courses
In addition to a transport manager CPC refresher course which should cover the key areas, transport managers ought also to make sure their knowledge on specific core areas remains up to date — for example, digital tachographs and drivers’ hours/working time, etc.
In addition to formal training courses provided by recognised bodies, there is also great value in drawing upon the expertise of people trained in specific areas: for example, transport managers without a background in maintenance would likely benefit from a day in the workshop with a qualified fitter who can take them through a regular safety inspection and some basic repairs.
Every transport manager should ensure that they regularly access — and read — the latest versions of DVSA publications and guides, including the Guide to Maintaining Roadworthiness, Safe Operators Guides, and Rules on Tachographs and Drivers’ Hours. Ensuring these are the up-to-date versions is vital because advice on best practice changes over time.
There are a number of road transport industry-specific publications available and many of these contain relevant articles and features on industry changes — transport managers would do well to keep track of the latest industry developments by regular reading of the trade periodicals.
Senior Traffic Commissioner guidance documents
Over the years, the Senior Traffic Commissioner has published guidance documents which are available free via the Government website.
Operators are expected to know their contents and the same goes for nominated transport managers.
Records should be kept of all training undertaken — while certificates should be obtained confirming attendance at formal training courses, transport managers ought to log any other training and development steps that they take — including informal, internal training — so that they are able to produce a full set of records which demonstrate all of the steps taken to continue their Professional Development.