November 8, 2011
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With apologies to those who can already answer the question, please bear with me and read on.
The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency – widely known as VOSA – devised a system called Operator Compliance Risk Score (OCRS) some time ago. With the intention of using it to target their limited resources on the operators who are less likely to comply with the various rules and regulations that apply to road haulage, the system has been refined since its introduction and now includes 10 levels in each of two areas: Roadworthiness and Traffic. The 10 levels are split into bands of red, amber and green, so the best rating you can get is Green 00 in either area, and the worst you can get is Red 10.
To further complicate the system, your individual score is based on your performance, such as the test history of your vehicles or the results of roadside checks. Where there are no actual records, the typical standard of other operators, who are similar in size or type, are used. It is important to bear in mind that your score can change without you doing anything, as the score is designed to compare your performance with other operators. So if the average improves, your score goes down – and vice versa. So far so good, but we have to ask if the system is working and how it could be improved.
Clearly, the larger the fleet, the more likely it is that VOSA will have real data on which to base the score and therefore the more accurate the score will be. We have heard from large members with Green 00 scores who say they are not being stopped at VOSA checks – and that is a good thing. Smaller operators, however, are less likely to be checked, having fewer vehicles for testing, and it can therefore take many years before an historic score can be established.
In my view, the system is limited, as it relies on a very small base of information. So why not give operators credit for the actions they take to ensure compliance? Why not allow operators to register their membership of the RHA as a sign that they are trying to operate to high standards? Why not encourage operators to have their systems and procedures audited by RHA, and then record this on their OCRS score as an indicator of their efforts to comply? The concept of VOSA using data and intelligence to target their limited resources on the small but significant number of firms which deliberately seek to cut corners and therefore put lives at risk and compete unfairly is sound. The RHA wants to help VOSA make the system more effective, allowing responsible operators to go about their business without undue interference. There is still a major problem with so-called cowboys, and we need VOSA to concentrate its limited resources on rounding them up.