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Officers from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards have found nearly a third of the county’s public weighbridges failed accuracy tests.                                                                                           

Weighbridges are large sets of scales that are used to weigh the contents of a van, lorry, trailer, tractor or other vehicle and can be critical to business operations and profits. By weighing the vehicle both empty and when loaded, the load carried and price can be calculated.

Under Weights and Measures legislation enforced by Trading Standards, all weighing equipment that is used when goods are bought or sold, is required to be appropriate for its use and verified as being accurate.

Typically used by builders’ merchants, quarries, food factories or landfill sites, weighbridges have permitted limits of error, small percentages they have to be within to be considered accurate. If scales are too far out of these limits, a business or customer could end up paying too much or too little for their goods depending on whether they are measuring over or under the actual weight.

Some businesses also use weighbridges to check their vehicles are not overloaded as this can damage roads or bridges where there are weight restrictions in place.

During routine checks of all public weighbridges (17 in Cambridgeshire and four in Peterborough), Trading Standards officials found five in Cambridgeshire to be outside these limits and were immediately disqualified from use until they are repaired and reverified as accurate.

The biggest failures were over three-and-a-half times the amount allowed and were caused by insufficient maintenance and cleaning.

Peter Gell, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Trading Standards Service Head of Regulatory Services, said: “The results of these tests clearly demonstrate that some businesses are carrying out insufficient maintenance and cleaning, and as a consequence weighbridges are becoming inaccurate.”

After checking a month later, officers found four of the weighbridges had received remedial work and been certified as accurate, while the business which owned the fifth was deciding on whether it should continue to maintain it or not.

Operators of weighbridges are responsible for ensuring their equipment is accurate and should be regularly inspected, cleaned and any necessary repairs carried out if needed.

Failure to do so can result in immediate disqualification or prosecution if they are found to be inaccurate. Scales found with lesser issues can be given 28 days to have the equipment repaired and re-verified.

For more information, visit https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/business/trading-standards/trading-licences-&-registrations/

An example of a lorry on a weighbridge

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