Matthew Wragg

Matthew Wragg

Director and Principal Consultant

Heavy Vehicle Chain of Responsibility (or CoR) Victoria

October 2018 saw the first major changes to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) since its 2014 adoption, which affect changes to Chain of Responsibility (or CoR) in Victoria. These changes fit into six broad categories and are explored in further detail below;

Change 1 – Duty of Care

At the crux of the changes is a move from incident-based prosecution for Chain of Responsibility breaches to a requirement for all parties within the Chain to insofar as is reasonably practicable ensure the safety of their activities. This means that prosecution for breaches of duty of care in the Chain of Responsibility in Victoria and other states under the HVNL can take place regardless of an incident occurring.

Change 2 – Executive Liability

It also means that the executives from parties within the Chain can be prosecuted if either their organisation or an individual from within it fails to exercise appropriate due diligence.

Change 3 – Increased Penalties

Like the Work Health and Safety (WHS) laws they have been modelled on, the HVNL changes include
the introduction of three categories of breaches. Maximum penalties within each of these categories
range from,

  • A $50,000 individual fine and $500,000 corporation fine for a Category 3 breach of duty or,
  • A $150,000 individual fine and $1,500,000 corporation fine for a Category 2 breach of duty or,
  • A $300,000 individual fine and/or 5 year jail term and $3,000,000 fine for a corporation convicted of a Category 1 breach.

Change 4 – Alignment with WHS Management Systems

The alignment of responsibilities and penalties for duty of care breaches under HVNL with WHS law means that many Chain of Responsibility and WHS management systems could be aligned or integrated reducing cost and administrative burden. There are differences between HVNL and WHS obligations however, as Chain of Responsibility obligations are not limited to a site or group of employees but to the supply chain party and the supply chain itself. MAEZ has been integral to many large companies and have supplied practical advice and tools to assist with integrating Chain of Responsibility and WHS management systems.

Change 5 – Vehicle Standards

All parties in the Chain are now responsible for adhering to standards related to road worthiness, construction, and design for the vehicles within their supply chain. This includes a maintenance regime with any and all Heavy Vehicles, that is undertaken by a qualified mechanic and at the same time adheres to the Manufacturers Service Intervals and Maintenance Processes.

Change 6 – Industry Codes

Industry codes must now be more compliance focused to be accepted for registration by the NHVR. The benefit of this is that registered industry codes can play an evidentiary role in court proceedings to determine whether duty of care has been complied with. Whilst compliance with a code is not a
suitable defence, it can be used to test reasonable practicability in circumstances relevant to the code.

Help is Available to Apply HVNL Changes in Victoria Whilst Chain of Responsibility in Victoria is now the regulatory responsibility of the NHVR, VicRoads and the RTA have put together a series of maps to help drivers comply with the HVNL requirements.  These maps outline curfews, height clearances, and required permits and aim to assist drivers to determine the roads they are permitted to use based on the time of day and their vehicle mass and dimensions.

VicRoads has also made the map data available so that companies can add it to their GPS systems or interrogate routes further. These maps as well as additional information for heavy vehicle drivers can be found at https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/business-and-Industry/heavyvehicle-industry/. Drivers should note however, that information is only available for freeways, highways, and main roads, and that councils will need to be consulted for information on local roads.

MAEZ has an abundance of information on the changes to Chain of Responsibility in Victoria. Get in touch with us today to find out more.

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