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Chain of Responsibility
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Chain of Responsibility (or CoR)?
It is a phrase used in the Australian supply chain, used when referring to trucking safety. Chain of Responsibility is also known as CoR and was brought about with the commencement of the Heavy Vehicle National Law, also known as the HVNL. A more in-depth explanation of CoR can be found HERE.
At what point does the Heavy Vehicle National Law (or 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 tonnes, even if it never has or will exceed 4.5 tonnes, then the Heavy Vehicle National Law (or HVNL) applies to you. The only exception is fatigue related legislation within the Heavy Vehicle National Law (or HVNL), where the truck must be capable of carrying 12 tonnes or more at any time.
What changes are being made regarding the Heavy Vehicle National Law (or HVNL)?
In 2018 Queensland 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, akin to workplace health and safety 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 the chain of responsibility (or CoR) laws?
The short answer is yes.
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 critical element of an assurance model 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. Importantly, training is also used to underpin the business rules, or policies you have in place.
As a PCBU, you have an obligation to ensure your employees or procedures do not hurt someone else.
Is there a restriction of hours that a truck can be used for?
Yes and No. Drivers do have a capacity of hours that they can legally drive for, although multiple drivers can use the truck in a two-up fashion which extends the non-stop driving range of a heavy vehicle. The restrictions around drivers vary, depending on the type of rules a driver is working to.
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 material. It is suggested 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 it’s great that you have systems in place, especially safety systems, it is best to formalise them by documenting them, reviewing them and updating them when required. Although any safety procedure is commendable, it will carry much more weight should you have to show that you have a working safety system in operation.
Does our business have to determine, and document time spent on site by a driver?
This question is raised often and it can differ depending on the type of transport task that is operating within your supply chain.
However, it is recommended that both the inbound and outbound time of a heavy vehicle is recorded so that other parties in the chain, can more adequately plan the activities of a heavy vehicle driver, which may include rest breaks before and after being loaded or unloaded.
Is signing a fitness to driver document enough to ensure a driver is fit for work?
A regime of ongoing driver assessment and daily checks based on visual queues that may suggest a problem(s) exist, should be the basis of all safety systems in the workplace with a transport task. A safety system should be an active system with people trained appropriately, to be able to assess ongoing elements within a business, which includes a transport task to ensure that safety remains a priority.
Do I need to make sure that those carrying our goods or delivering our products are compliant in the chain?
Absolutely and in fact, it is deemed your duty with the Heavy Vehicle National Law (or HVNL). You should be engaging in formal and informal discussions with your vendors often, ensuring their compliance through audits, providing show cause notices for poor safety performances and suspending contracts or terminating contracts for poor ongoing 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 Chain of Responsibility (or 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 is performing due diligence and ensuring contractors are not 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 is putting anyone who drivers a heavy vehicle at risk, you can be prosecuted directly.
Do GPS Telematics ensure me from being prosecuted?
Far from it, in fact. An assurance model or safety system requires multiple layers of tasks, record keeping and updating to ensure your business is in the best possible position should something go wrong. A simple GPS system will help you manage speed in a live environment, but it is not encapsulating any other risk from potentially occurring in your business.
Must trucks be checked before operating on each shift?
While there is no pre-requisite to ensure a truck or heavy vehicle is checked before each shift. The HVNL or Heavy Vehicle National Law states that no truck should be used if it is deemed unsafe. So if you were asked how you ensure a truck is safe, a truck check might be one solution of many to ensure a vehicle is safe to use.
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