A high-ranking executive from Connect Logistics has been found guilty of negligence in relation to the deaths of four police officers. The former Sydney-based national operations manager has been found guilty of a category-1 breach of NSW's version of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) after a six-week trial.
A category-1 breach is the most serious offence under the HVNL and involves ‘a person engaging, without reasonable excuse, in conduct relating to a primary safety duty that exposes an individual to a risk of death or serious injury or illness and being reckless as to the risk.’
The executive's failure to ensure proper fatigue management systems led to a fatal incident in April 2020 on the Eastern Freeway. A Connect Logistics driver fell asleep at the wheel, resulting in a collision with two police cars involved in a traffic stop, leading to the deaths of four police officers.
The drug-affected driver has already been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for his role in the fatalities.
Connect Logistics was fined $2.31 million last month, the highest penalty ever imposed under the HVNL, with another executive copping a $22,500 fine.
During the seven months preceding the fatalities, more than 40 per cent of Connect Logistics' driving shifts had fatigue-related breaches, with management endorsing more than 500 of the 800-plus offending shifts.
The senior executive faces a possible two-year custodial sentence, highlighting the serious consequences of safety breaches in the heavy vehicle industry.
This case underscores the responsibility of executives to ensure safety and emphasises the importance of effective fatigue management that prioritises driver and community safety.
Despite the incident occurring in Victoria, the court case was heard in NSW, where the company is based. Connect Logistics employs workers across Australia.