All listed parties in a road transport task within a supply chain, have specific obligations under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (or HVNL) to prevent an incident from occurring. Also known as Chain of Responsibility, it requires every listed party in the supply chain to take positive steps to prevent mass, load restraint, dimension, fatigue and speed offences, and as of 1st October 2018; maintenance offences.
Any party in the supply chain with responsibility for for their actions, which may affect compliance with road transport laws, can be held legally accountable if they do not meet their obligations. Chain of Responsibility (or CoR) NSW legislation recognises the effects of the actions, or inactions and demands of off-road parties in any transport task.
How does it work?
Offences in maintenance, mass, dimension, load restraint, and driver fatigue have been placed in risk based categories.
Breaches of these laws are classed as minor, substantial, severe or critical. This recognises that not all offences have the same impact on safety or infrastructure.
These risk based offences reflect similar breaches in related areas such as work health and safety and environmental protection and heavy penalties apply.
A range of penalties (for example, warnings, improvement notices and prohibition orders) give the regulator, supported by the police and the courts greater enforcement measures for penalising offences. They also help to prevent, persuade and target the causes of breaches to ensure a culture of compliance within the heavy vehicle industry.
The ‘responsible person’ concept makes the laws applicable to a wide range of relevant people responsible for the transport of goods.
- Heavy vehicle drivers must drive safely and within speed limits, as well as ensuring they work within their limits limits and ensure their rest requirements are met
- Loaders must load a vehicle within mass limits and ensure load restraint requirements are met, to ensure the load is safe for transport
- Consignors must ensure the delivery of goods does not require the driver to exceed the permitted number of driving hours and drive fatigued or exceed the speed limits.
What penalties are in place for breaches of Chain of Responsibility (or CoR) NSW?
Breaches of Chain of Responsibility (or CoR) NSW, can be both administrative and court imposed. They can also be tailored to address specific types of offences. The legislation can distinguish between first time offenders and systemic offenders, with more serious penalties for parties that are found to consistently break the Heavy Vehicle National Law (or HVNL).
Examples of administrative penalties that the Roads and Maritime may issue include:
- Improvement notices – which identify areas of risk and requires a guilty party to address any non-compliance
- Warnings – puts a party on notice to address any non-compliance where a minor breach is found
- Infringement notices – can be an alternative to court proceedings and usually for a less serious offence.
Courts may issue fines as well as having the ability to impose:
- Supervisory intervention orders
- Licensing and registration sanctions
- Prohibition orders
- Commercial benefits penalties
- Chain of responsibility (or CoR) penalties
In addition, a body corporate may have a five times multiplier imposed on their penalty, which could be a significant impact.
Chain of Responsibility (or CoR) does not differ in any way within NSW, so the laws applicable for Chain of Responsibility (or CoR) in NSW are the same in all states, except WA and the NT .
How does Roads and Maritime Services enforce CoR law?
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (or NHVR) is responsible for safe and efficient journeys throughout NSW for all heavy vehicles, as well as other states. Roads and Maritime NSW works with the regulator to ensure all road users operate safely and within NSW and abide by the National Heavy Vehicle Law (or HVNL).
Roads and Maritime work with the regulator and is responsible for detecting and reporting to the NHVR any breaches found for further investigation.
How Does The Regulator Enforce Chain of Responsibility (or CoR) in NSW
The NHVR may initiate a CoR investigation in the following situations:
- Evidence of systemic and habitual breaches
- Evidence of continued unfair commercial advantage as a result of breaches
- Road crash that involves significant risks or damage to safety and infrastructure
- Evidence of unreasonable demands and pressures on other responsible persons in the supply chain.
How should I implement the Chain of Responsibility (or CoR)?
All parties should take a risk management approach to their obligations in Chain of Responsibility (or CoR), irrespective of which state you reside or operate in. It is considered a reasonable step in running a modern business, such as managing work health and safety, the quality control of goods, cash flow and other important tasks.
It is important that every business involved in a transport task should assess their Chain or Responsibility (or CoR) and ensure their compliance. This may include:
- Maintaining equipment
- Ensuring compliance and assurance conditions are met in commercial agreements with other parties
- Training of staff, suppliers and customers on Chain of Responsibility (or CoR)
- Developing, implementing and reviewing appropriate policies, procedures and workplace practices
- Outsourcing advice on your legal obligations.