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.

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 tonne, even if it never has or will exceed 4.5 tonne, 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 Qld 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, like WHS 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, unequivocally.
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 wise move 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.

Is there a restriction of hours that a truck can be used for?

Yes and no. Drivers have a capacity of hours that they can legally drive for, although multiple drivers can use the truck. 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 materials. 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 in court should you have to prove you have been trying to do the right thing in your workplace.

Does our business have to determine, and document time spent on site by a driver?

It is recommended you do so, to reduce the possibility of a fatigue breach. If you can provide the driver with enough information to correctly plan a trip with breaks at sufficient intervals, considering correct drive time and work time required, it is less likely fatigue will become a risk.

Is signing a fitness to driver document enough to ensure a driver is fit for work?

No. 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. It is further recommended that drivers are required to undergo drug and alcohol testing at client sites, to ensure that due diligence is being undertaken where possible and the driver is also exposed to random testing at any time or place.

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.