NHVR COR boss says enforcement must start with drivers

By: Brad Gardner

Existing COR structure means truck drivers are the first to feel the wrath of authorities


Truck drivers will continue to be first in line under chain of responsibility (COR) until legislative changes are made, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) says.

The NHVR’s head of COR, Michael Crellin, says authorities must prove a driver has committed offences before an investigation can move further up the transport supply chain.

Work is currently underway on possible reforms to COR, such as the introduction of primary duties, and Crellin says this will help agencies hold the entire supply chain accountable.

"I guess the best way to describe that is the way that the law is currently framed and until we get the general duty we have to actually prove those substantive offences committed by the driver first before we can go and attack anybody else in the chain," Crellin says.

"What the general duty will provide for us is that overarching workplace health and safety style offence committed by the company and other parties in the supply chain…it’s actually going to be quite effective for us to go back and apply the pressure where it really needs to be applied.

"That being the companies who are setting up the systems and processes and applying business practices to you as drivers that either push or pull that type of offending, the offending we see subject to the chain of responsibility."

Touted in a National Transport Commission (NTC) discussion paper released in July, primary — or general — duties impose an overarching responsibility on businesses and individuals.

The NTC says existing COR law is very prescriptive and relies on an offence occurring before authorities can take action.

Crellin believes greater emphasis needs to be placed on parties in the supply chain other than the truck driver.

"Our conversation needs to change and highlight the fact that it is upstream and downstream that is forcing the pressure ultimately upon the driver," he says.

"The driver’s the gatekeeper in all of this and unfortunately that is where it has to start for us to kick things off. With some changes to legislation that should improve, but it’s more about actually highlighting the whole problem."

Crellin made the comments earlier this year at a gathering in Melbourne on safety in the road transport industry.

The event, organised by the Transport Workers Union (TWU), included representatives from the NTC, the NHVR, the Roads and Maritime Services, Toll and FBT Transwest.

Crellin says he is interested in working with state and territory police and road transport agencies on establishing national COR investigation capabilities.

Although the Northern Territory and Western Australia do not recognise the NHVR, Crellin is hopeful both jurisdictions will be involved.

"What that means is that there is going to be a lot more interaction between all of those agencies and we will actually be working together so that we can address chain of responsibility right across the nation," he says.

"And I do indeed mean across the nation because we’ve had a lot of interest already from Northern Territory and Western Australia, who are yet to sign up to the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

"Our capability will be built around being able to reach into every jurisdiction in exactly the same way and there will be no place to hide."


Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the Trade Trucks e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook


Trucks For Hire | Forklifts For Hire | Cranes For Hire | Generators For Hire | Transportable Buildings For Hire