It is a phrase used in Australian supply chain, used when referring to trucking safety. It is also know as CoR and was brought about with the commencement of the Heavy Vehicle National Law, also known as the HVNL.
At what point does the HVNL impact my business?
If you have a truck working within your business, whether you own it or not, or the driver works for you or not and that vehicle can at anytime weigh over 4.5 tonne, even if it never has or will exceed 4.5 tonne, then the HVNL applies to you. The only exception is fatigue related legislation within the HVNL, where the truck must can carry 12 tonnes or more at any time.
What changes are being made regarding the heavy vehicle national law?
In 2017 Qld parliament passed legislation that enacted a revised HVNL, mostly known as legislation ensuring Chain of Responsibility. The main changes were moving the focus from a shared responsibility to a prime duty model, like WHS legislation. This is significant as people who have trucks in their business, whether they own or pay for them directly or not, now have a prime duty of care to ensure those trucks are safe on our roads.
Should workers in the supply chain be trained in chain of responsibility?
The short answer is yes, unequivocally.
Although there is no direct element within the legislation to ensure you train your staff in Chain of Responsibility, it is deemed to be a wise move to ensure those in your chain, understand their responsibilities and perform their tasks diligently to ensure their actions or inactions do not cause a transport safety breach.
Is there a restriction of hours that a truck can be used for?
Yes and no. Drivers have a capacity of hours that they can legally drive for, although the truck can be used by multiple drivers. The restrictions around drivers vary, depending on the type of rules a driver is working under.
Is a truck restricted as to the amount of weight it can carry?
Yes, and although it may be designed to carry a specific weight, it may be far less depending on the maximum legal road limit the truck is driving on or intending to drive on.
Do I have to comply with the authorities if they come knocking and demand answers?
While you may be subpoenaed to provide documents or evidence, you should seek legal advice before handing over any documents. It is also advised that you refrain from making any formal comment or admitting any liability before seeking formal legal advice. You are not legally compelled to answer any question from any authority at any time.
We have heaps of procedures in our workplace, but we don’t document them, where does that leave us?
While its great that you have systems in place, especially safety systems, if is best to formalize them by documenting them, reviewing them and updating them when required. Although any safety procedure is commendable, it will carry much more weight in court should you have to prove you have been trying to do the right thing in your workplace.
Does our business have to determine, and document time spent on site by a driver?
It is strongly advised you do to reduce the possibility of a fatigue breach. If you can provide the driver with enough information to correctly plan a trip with breaks at sufficient intervals, considering correct drive time and work time required, it is less likely fatigue will become a risk.
It signing a fitness to driver document enough to ensure a driver is fit for work?
No. A regime of an initial employment medical, ongoing periodical medicals, drug and alcohol testing and risk assessing fatigue before a driver commences work should be the basis for a safe working environment. It is also suggested that drivers are required to undergo drug and alcohol testing at client sites, to ensure that their due diligence is being undertaken and the driver is also exposed to random testing at any time or place.
Do I need to make sure that those carrying our goods or delivering our goods are compliant in the chain?
Absolutely and in fact it is deemed your duty with the HVNL. You should be engaging in formal and informal discussions with your vendors often, ensuring their compliance through desktop and full audits, providing show cause notices for poor safety performances and suspending contracts or terminating contracts for poor safety performance.
As CEO I sit on a board of directors and run the business I work for afar, am I responsible for breaches in CoR?
Yes, and you are probably considered the most responsible in all the parties listed in the chain, within the HVNL. Also, regarding your position, as an executive of the business you are also party to the executive liability provisions. This means that you are ultimately responsible and accountable for compliance at the coal face, by ensuring that middle management are performing due diligence and ensuring contractors are not being given prohibited requests. The bill that enforces this element is also independent, meaning that it will not take a breach for an investigation to potentially ensue. So even if nothing has gone wrong, if your business by the actions or inaction’s of its workforce are putting anyone who drivers a heavy vehicle at risk, you can be prosecuted directly.