More to be done on Chain of Responsibility education

Overloaded trucks, failure to properly induct drivers, inadequate restraint of loads and breaches of permit conditions, are among the many breaches of the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) laws, that have been prosecuted in Australia in the past 12 months

The CoR laws are overseen by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), with the most significant penalties in place for anyone who fails to uphold their ‘primary duty’ to keep people safe. 

NHVR states that the concept of primary duty applies to any party in the chain of responsibility.

“It requires the party to eliminate or minimise the risk of the transport activities they influence or control, so far as is reasonably practicable.”

NHVR outlines two main ways it establishes breaches of the primary duty –  

  • By proving that a CoR party did not have measures in place to manage safety safely
  • By evidence that a CoR party caused another party to breach the Heavy Vehicle National Law

Fleet Plant Hire’s Systems and Compliance manager Jade Brooks says the CoR laws apply not only to Owner Operators, but to all those who control or influence the transport task, such as consignees, consignors, loaders, primary contractors, supervisors and Directors. 

“Everyone has a role to play in CoR, the onus is not simply placed on the truck driver,” Brooks says.

“Sites need to be aware of the processes they must have in place to ensure all loads are legal when heavy vehicles enter and exit a site.”

Brooks says the good news for the industry is that there is now a lot more technology available to assist companies in meeting their CoR obligations.

“We are shifting to a digital world where information is more readily available and can be used in various ways to understand the transport task.

“We have been able to elevate our systems by continuing to develop them to better assist our business and those in the Chain in meeting obligations under CoR. 

“It’s through these systems and the data captured, that we are able to educate those in the supply chain and hopefully influence better decision making.”

Failure to follow through with CoR activities can be costly.

A company in NSW was fined $10,000 and had a conviction recorded in Windsor Local Court on August 24, 2022, for ‘permitting a person to drive a heavy vehicle that does not comply with the relevant mass requirements applying to the vehicle’. The company was also required to undergo mass training as part of a Supervisory Intervention Order.

While Brooks says there has been some positive progress in terms of the ability to measure activity against CoR rules, there is still a way to go within the industry to understand what should be measured.

“Education and awareness is truly lacking on construction sites when it comes to complying with the chain of responsibility,” she says.

“Hopefully, over time, there will be a stronger focus on compliance with the HVNL to improve and make our roads safer.

“Fleet Plant Hire has taken a pro-active approach when it comes to working within the CoR laws, including substantially investing in our state-of-the-art contractor management system. 

“This has enabled us to closely monitor the compliance of our contractors and business processes, allowing us to address breaches if and when they occur.

“We also offer comprehensive training for our team members in CoR to help them understand their responsibilities under the legislation’.

The following list is a good place to start regarding the key elements managers, drivers, loaders and consignors and consignees should be looking out for – 

  • Make sure schedules do not lead to drivers breaching driving hours or speed limits
  • Assess whether a driver is fit for duty
  • Ensure driver activities, work and rest times are recorded
  • Maintain vehicles and ensure properly functioning speed limiters are fitted
  • Ensure vehicles are not loaded to exceed mass or dimension limits and are appropriately restrained
  • Ensure drivers moving freight containers have a valid container weight declaration and that goods packed into the container do not cause its gross weight or safety approval rating to be exceeded
  • Ensure vehicle loading/unloading does not cause delays or add to driver fatigue and advise drivers of any delays of more than 30 minutes
  • Provide reliable weight information to drivers prior to the journey
  • Check and report on all maintenance issues
  • Obey all speed limits and road rules
  • Identify and report hazards and risks associated with the transport task
  • Consult regularly with other parties in the supply chain to identify risks and issues that may contribute to breaches of the HVNL.


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