New Chain of Responsibility Laws
What is the Chain of Responsibility Law?
Chain of responsibility (CoR) obligations come from the Heavy Vehicle National Law Act in each state.
Queensland (QLD) is the lead state and each Australian jurisdiction, except NT & WA, have adopted the QLD requirements for uniformity.
For example, in Victoria the legislation is called the Heavy Vehicle National Law Application Act 2013.
The law is supported by regulations that include: general, safety, fatigue, mass, dimensions, loading, registration and vehicle standard.
What is a Heavy Vehicle?
All vehicles with a gross mass (weight) greater than 4.5 Tonnes are classified as a Heavy Vehicle (HV) and subject to these laws.
These laws apply to a one-off delivery using a heavy vehicle as well as companies running high-volume long-distance logistics businesses.
Note: The gross weight also includes weight of any trailers and loads.
Most rigid trucks, buses, heavy agricultural equipment that travel on roads, excavators and road construction equipment, B-Double trucks and road trains all come under the heavy vehicle laws.
Who is Subject to the CoR Laws?
Any person or business involved in the logistics chain with heavy vehicles must comply with their respective CoR obligations.
The parties with specific CoR obligations include:
- Consignors eg engage transport of goods
- Consignees eg receive goods
- Employers & Executive Officers
- Load packers
- Schedulers & load managers
- Loaders eg forklift operators
Note: Our March newsletter explained the key requirements for load restraint, which is the primary duty of drivers, but loaders and load packers also share this duty and must ensure no load goes on the road with inadequate load restraint.
What Other Laws Apply?
In addition to the CoR laws there is also safety obligations under:
a) General traffic laws which apply to all vehicles on the road eg roadworthy, speed, lights and parking requirements;
b) Workplace safety laws - general duty of care eg need for a traffic management plan for safe movement and loading / unloading of vehicles on site.
New CoR General Duty
From 1st October 2018 companies and executives must be able to demonstrate they have exercised due diligence (general duty of care) to ensure their employees, contractors, drivers and other parties in the logistics chain are compliant with the CoR laws.
Each party involved in the transport of goods via heavy vehicles is required to consult with the other parties in the logistics chain to ensure compliance.
For example, if a company procedurally receives goods with excessive over-hang on the trucks or over-loaded they must advise the other party and if necessary take whatever commercial action is available to them to correct the situation.
Action in response to alleged CoR breaches could include; training contractors in the transport and company rules, formal complaint to consignor and or transport company, or cancel transport contract if firm is not willing or able to comply with CoR requirements.
What Penalties Apply?
The new CoR laws have adopted a similar structure of penalties as in the harmonised workplace safety laws with three categories. The maximum penalties are outlined below:
Category 1 Offence – Reckless breach creating risk of death or serious injury
$3m for Corporation
$300,000 or 5-year’s jail or both for Individual
Category 2 Offence – Breach creating risk of death or serious injury (not reckless)
$1.5m for Corporation
$150,000 for Individual
Category 3 Offence – Other breach eg technical breach such as incomplete records
$500,000 for Corporation
$50,000 for Individual
What are the Key CoR Requirements?
The common breaches and respective liability for CoR breaches include:
If a driver is caught speeding CoR records could be audited to see if the delivery instructions or conditions eg bonus payment for number of deliveries in a day or for on-time delivery encouraged speeding.
If so each party to the agreement could be prosecuted under the CoR laws for allowing or encouraging the breach.
b) Mass & Dimension of Loads
Whilst drivers have an obligation not to over-load their vehicle, load managers, schedulers and forklift / crane operators also have a duty to ensure loads do not exceed over-hang limits or the vehicle gross mass, per vehicle load plaque (usually inside driver’s door frame) or in vehicle documentation or manual.
Every load including packages and pre-loaded pallets must have clear labelling of; weight, dimensions (if could over-hang truck) and any special transport or restraint requirements.
c) Load Restraint
It is not enough to display a sign that says something like “All drivers and customers must restrain their own loads”.
Under CoR laws it could be a breach to knowingly or recklessly load a vehicle and allow it to go on road not properly restrained.
Your load managers, forklift loaders and warehouse staff need to be trained in the CoR laws and load restraint requirements for your products, and not allow anyone to leave the premises with inadequate load restraint.
It is probably better to display a sign with something like:
“All loads must be properly restrained by drivers, but if unable to comply we can sell you approved restraints, or we will not load or remove load until a safe vehicle and restraints are provided”
If a driver is found to be fatigued records of all parties in the logistics chain can be audited to see if any conditions or practices contributed to the alleged breach of CoR laws eg scheduling excessive shifts or deliveries.
b) Vehicle Standards
The new CoR laws now also include vehicle standards so loading a contractor’s vehicle or customer’s vehicle which is clearly unsafe or in poor condition could lead to charges for load managers or loaders or other parties if they cannot show they have exercised due diligence.
Note: You are not expected to do a roadworthy check of other people’s vehicles, but your team need to be trained to recognise potential unsafe vehicle conditions and not load until satisfied they are safe or escalate to the load manager.
If you would like to:
a) Know more about CoR; or
b) Get a quote for a CoR audit or training session for your loaders and schedulers call Gary or Ben on T. 03 85 444 300.