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Changes to CoR laws coming in 2018 (Part One)

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Are you ready for the changes to the Chain of Responsibility (CoR), which are due to come into effect mid-2018? Over the next two articles, we’ll be looking at the amendments to the CoR laws and how it will affect the industry.

As many heavy transport companies know, travelling with goods or heavy equipment is not as simple as hopping in a passenger car to drive to your local shops. Those who get behind the wheel of a prime mover understand driver fatigue, overloading and speeding are just some of the risky, yet preventable, behaviours making our industry one of the more dangerous sectors in the world.

These examples are just a few of the many reasons why all Australian states and territories (except WA and NT) must observe the Chain of Responsibility law, which falls under the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

As part of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s strategy to optimise safety for the industry, the CoR laws are about to change for the better. While it’s another six months before these amendments come into effect, operators and the public have been privy to the new CoR laws for much of this year.  Although as we edge closer to the implementation date, it’s more important than ever that business puts in place the process to ensure a smooth transition.

Changes to primary duty

Prior to these changes, the CoR laws have placed primary responsibility on operators and drivers. It doesn’t seem entirely fair, does it? The amendments to the law have been designed to broaden across every party in the chain to ensure accountability, especially from pressures by off-road parties on drivers and operators.

If you’re not sure whether the laws apply to you, here’s a list of the people it affects:

  • Corporations, partnerships, unincorporated associations or other bodies corporate
  • Employers and company directors
  • Prime contractors of drivers
  • The operator of a vehicle
  • Schedulers of goods or passengers for transport in or on a vehicle, and the scheduler of its driver
  • Consigner, consignees and receivers of the goods for transport
  • Loaders and unloaders of goods
  • Loading managers

Still not sure? The NHVR has a handy checklist, where you can determine whether you are a part of the chain of responsibility.

“So far as reasonably practical”

In the current CoR laws, all parties who have control or influence over the transport tasks are solely responsible for both complying and breaches of these laws.

The new changes will make it abundantly clear that every party in the supply chain has a “primary duty” to ensure safe practices “so far as reasonably practical”.

What does “so far as reasonably practical” mean? It’s much like a test which takes into account and weighs up matters including:

  • The likelihood of a risk occurring
  • The degree of harm
  • What the person knows about the risk
  • Ways to remove or reduce the risk and whether it is feasible
  • Whether the costs are proportionate to the risk

The new laws will increase powers of investigation – broadening of the information gather powers available to authorised officers so that an investigator has the ability to make requirements of third parties

One common question many may ask is: What if I’m a consigner or consignee? To this, the NHVR say the reality is three things: “observe, record and report.”

Applying this to your business is more achievable by adopting the NHVR Registered Industry Code of Practice. By doing so, a court may find you are effectively addressing your primary duty within the chain of responsibility, as known risks have already been identified and control measures put in place.

You’ve made it to the end of part one. In part two, how the new current CoR will affect all parties and the penalties which could occur if not follows. Stay tuned.

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