Chain of Responsibility (CoR) obligations have been revised and will be arriving in mid-2018 bringing with it changes which will impact on many more organisations. These changes are closely aligned with workplace health and safety laws and see a significant increase in penalties for non-compliance.
What is CoR?
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), Australia’s independent regulator for heavy vehicles administers laws governing heavy vehicle legislation. This legislation has traditionally placed primary responsibility on operators and drivers. The changes to the CoR has been designed to ensure accountability of all parties, especially from pressures by off-road parties on drivers and operators.
Who does the chain of responsibility apply to?
CoR applies to ALL parties in the supply chain. This may include:
- 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
- Consignors/consignees/receivers of the goods for transport
- Loaders/unloaders of goods
- Loading managers (the person who supervises loading/unloading, or manages the premises where this occurs).
All parties have a shared responsibility to reduce risk and prevent breaches of NHVR legislation such as load mass and dimensions, load placement, speed compliance and working hours.
Anyone having control over a transport task can be held responsible for a breach of the road laws and may be held legally liable. Think duty of care requirements in workplace health and safety legislation.
What do we need to do?
As a party in the CoR no matter if you are a multi-national or a 1 man band you need to take ‘reasonable steps’ to reduce risk and prevent a breach. Reasonable steps can mean various things. To take reasonable steps means to apply risk management concept.
- Identify the hazard – what could happen? What could foreseeably and potentially go wrong?
- Assess the risk of that hazard causing harm – What harm could it cause, to what, to who & how many, what would the consequence be?
- Control the risk – apply controls that are ‘reasonable practicable’. I.e. taking into consideration controls that are or were at a time, reasonably able to be done in relation to the duty, weighing up all relevant matters including:
- Likelihood of a safety risk or damage to person/s or property including road infrastructure
- The level of harm or damage that could result in the risk or damage
- What the person knows or ought to have known reasonably know about the risk or damage
- What the person knows or ought to have known about preventing or / the risk or minimising the risk or damage
- The availability and suitability of the identified controls
- The cost associated with the identified controls including if the cost is grossly disproportionate to the likelihood of the risk or damage.
Policies and Procedures
Parties in the CoR will need to review their existing or develop and implement appropriate policies and procedures to manage their CoR obligations including their disciplinary process for breaches.
Parties must also ensure that all relevant workers are aware of these policies and procedures including knowing and understanding their individual responsibilities.
Policies and procedures are part of an organisations way of showing they are taking reasonable steps to reduce risk and prevent a breach. The catch is you MUST enforce these to the letter. If you have policies and procedures and don’t enforce them it is as good as saying ‘yeah, we knew about the risk but we turned a blind eye’. This is just as negligent as not having anything in place.
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