Chain of Responsibility Policy
Is Your Safety Policy Enough?
Chain of Responsibility Policy
If you consider what it may be like in life without the law that guides us all, Earth or Australia would be a pretty glum place to live.
Laws structure our everyday lives and tell us what we can or cannot do in certain circumstances; they are there to protect us from each other and to maintain a peaceful place to live, or at least as friendly as possible. Take the legislation that governs the speed we can use when travelling on our roads. Imagine if that wasn’t in place, what sort of roads would we have with people self-diagnosing the risk that a certain speed may bring.
Over the years, we have had laws in place for heavy vehicles. We have had rules to help guide heavy vehicle drivers on speed and how much rest they must take, even how much each truck can carry. However, for many years in times gone by, the authorities didn’t focus on this area too much, because of one reason or another. What also took place over that same period was a reliance on road freight within Australia, and that reliance has helped our road freight network to expand and become a substantial component of our national GDP.
As a result, chain of responsibility legislation was formed and brought into law within Australia. Some time ago now, the lawmakers in Australia identified a need to improve efficiencies and also reduce incidents on our road network. Afterall our road network is Australia’s lifeblood, and without it, we wouldn’t be very efficient as a nation at all.
During the last 20 years or so, the chain of responsibility policy shifted, because the understanding came to light that certain people within organisations that influenced the safety of trucking companies and truck drivers, didn’t realise that their actions or inactions were causing harm. So the chain of responsibility legislation has been changed over time and at some points in the last few years very considerably to encompass other people within a supply chain that may influence the safety outcome of a heavy vehicle, the driver and while in transit the general public.
Those people are explicitly listed within the heavy vehicle national law, and you know it as the chain of responsibility legislation. The people the law sets out that has implications to ensure the safety of a vehicle include,
- Executives or leaders of an organisation, this includes charities
- Managers of loading teams or packers of containers or unpackers
- Loaders themselves, such as forklift drivers or container packers or unpackers
- Consignees or those who send large shipments on trucks
- Consignors or those who receive large loads on trucks
- Employers who engage a transport company to work for them in any capacity
- Someone who may allocate or schedule work to a heavy vehicle, both the load or the timeframe which the truck may need to adhere to
- Operators of a transport company
- Sub-contractors who drive a truck for paid work
If you do any of those tasks or similar tasks, no matter what your role may be called, or if you work part-time or full-time even if you work for free. If you work in and around trucks at all, there is almost a pure chance that you have a legal liability to ensure that your workplace chain of responsibility policy provides that safety encompasses all heavy vehicle transport movements.
It’s not enough to say you are safe or to hang an excellent policy on the wall. You must be doing things within your business to actively reduce the likelihood of hard your organisation may inflict on a driver, the truck or general public.
There is much conjecture around this law, as people don’t see it as their direct responsibility. However, industries all over Australia are adopting this legislation and results of this are already affecting the ability of smaller businesses obtaining work through a lack of safety measures in their organisation. More substantial corporations are spending millions on ensuring they mitigate their chain of responsibility risk. Being involved in an incident that can easily become very public, very quickly is not good for business.
There is much you can do within your organisation, even inexpensively, to reduce your legal liability or the legal liability your company may endure as a result of your actions personally. Putting your head in the sand is not a great idea at all, as the courts will dismiss a plead of ignorance.
Safety of others is part of our culture now in Australia, everywhere you look. Just look for the person wearing steel cap boots and a fluorescent shirt.