The NHVR - Out of Touch & Out of Control
If you have followed the NHVR, you would have seen a post come out of the organisation from Geoff Casey and an article front and centre of the NHVR.
In my view this is one of the most damaging articles to ever come from a governing body, that was put together to enhance a safety culture, amongst one of the most dangerous industries now in Australia.
It would be easy to say that this is to help and support trucking as a whole, but has it?
Public perception when it comes to trucks is probably at its all-time low. Industries have regulators and watchdogs created to stem the issues within them. The mere fact that COAG setup the regulator with encompassing legislation was to help a sector that is fraught with incidents that kill people, plain and simple.
I am someone who has worked from the ground up in logistics. I’ve driven trucks and managed transport tasks with up to $25m budgets. I am also someone passionate, someone who has had a significant near miss with a forklift from behind and know many truckers who have families, just like yours and mine.
Two things affect the owner-operator.
- Small if any margins.
- An extremely competitive marketplace.
Most operators in the industry don’t work with contracts. It’s easy to say that they should, but the reality is that they don’t because the next guy who competes is happy to work without one.
The other issue they face with the same challenge at heart is that the next guy will deliver the same product or service cheaper. We all have home loans and mouths to feed. The owner-operator buys the same truck and trailer, at roughly the same costs. They pay the banker who loans them the cash for that the same rates. They afford the same fuel price and use the same amount of fuel. So how do they do it cheaper you ask?
They forget to spend money on safety.
NHVR – Geoff Casey.
“Don’t ask for this information about your transport providers, because the law doesn’t demand it.”
Hence is why the NHVR was employed. They were installed by COAG (Council of Australian Governments) to ensure the safety of the taxpayer; both you and me. The NHVR was installed to promote safety in a transport task, to clean up the industry and make it a level playing field. In doing so, protecting the general public and the national road infrastructure, we all use.
There are three main sectors the National Heavy Vehicle Law affects significantly, with the Executive Liability in mind.
- The owner-operator running 1 to >5000 trucks,
- Businesses employing the owner-operators and,
- Owner-operators who are using other owner-operators.
Owner-operators who are doing the right thing have their systems, processes and procedures in place and regularly supply them to those whom they are trying to obtain work from. The NSW government went to tender when the West Connex came up for construction with a requirement in Chain of Responsibility spanning 36 pages, for an incumbent to comply with.
So why then did Geoff Cassy and the NHVR alienate the larger group of owner-operators who are currently doing the right thing? Because if they are compliant and have compliance officers working for them, showing their due diligence in the Heavy Vehicle National Law wouldn’t be an issue. Unless of course, you weren’t compliant and were losing work to those who are!
I’ve said it time and time again, those who are compliant in the Heavy Vehicle National Law have an underlying value proposition, as the larger businesses will not tolerate anyone working for them who are not compliant, especially government bodies. A company, any company needs two individuals only and only two! A marketing person and a supply chain person. If you think how large a supply chain is, there is a supply chain in just about every organisation. The Heavy Vehicle National Law affects most of the businesses within the Australian business sector and just about every government agency who deliver a product.
So why do the government agencies, just like the NHVR still want to ensure compliance from their vendors? Why did the NSW government stipulate on 36 pages within a larger document the standards that the incumbent ensure, with the Heavy Vehicle National Law? Why does the West Connex hire auditors to audit transport companies working for West Connex?
The answer is, to avoid prosecution!
The NHVR then says to the broader transport community by many methods available to them, “Don’t ask for this information about your transport providers, because the law doesn’t demand it.”
The law does demand it, and the law requires that you ensure as an executive that your front line staff are ensuring Chain of Responsibility compliance, your middle management are enforcing Chain of Responsibility compliance and that your agreements do not have prohibitive requests.
So if you don’t ask your incumbents about their safety system, how can you ensure this as an executive? How do you then ensure your due diligence has been met?
However, this is where the irresponsibility of the NHVR heads with these comments.
Recently a business in the Northern Territory was fined $154,000 for not ensuring that the driver who reversed down a dark alley and killed a man sleeping in some rubbish that the truck ran over while reversing, was inducted and trained in checking that there was a clear path before traversing. Woolworths who engaged the transport company is looking down the barrel of a $1.5m fine for not ensuring due diligence over the same issue as they hired the transport company involved.
Case law could assist a prosecution when prosecuting a business for not ensuring due diligence on that alone. However, could they, given now the comments from the NHVR?
Who does business now believe? This is the level of irresponsibility by the NHVR, and the best part is they won’t comment any further. Are they a law unto themselves?
People from all levels of associations and organisations have discussed with me their bedazzlement of those comments and where the NHVR are at with any prosecutions, with over six months since the inception of the legislative changes with the Heavy Vehicle National Law. They are fair comments and questions by honest taxpayers and members of the public who are concerned as to the throughput of the NHVR.
People on Facebook posts and Linkedin posts have discussed their concern with heavy vehicles on the roads. Especially with the heightened level of incidents and accidents involving heavy vehicles over this last Easter and this year more broadly. People have a right to be concerned. The NHVR is sucking up large sums of taxpayer funds, and no dent in the safety culture seems to be filtering down to the raw end of the industry that deals with death and significant injury daily.
Furthermore, transport operators who are investing and trying to do the right thing with safety are still at loggerheads with those who aren’t and are getting away with blue murder in broad daylight and who dare to question why they are being quizzed over their internal safety systems. Only then to have it substantiated by an out of touch organisation, employed to protect the general public and the industry itself.
If you too want to make an impact, I suggest you make an appointment to see your local member and to have this matter heard.