Car­ry­ing one’s weight

It’s fi­nally hap­pen­ing – the new chain of re­spon­si­bil­ity laws are here

Australian Transport News - - Law Path -

“The last two years have seen a quick­en­ing of aware­ness and ac­tiv­ity around the im­pend­ing changes.”

C

hanges to the Heavy Ve­hi­cle

Na­tional Law ( HVNL) are due to ‘go live’ on Oc­to­ber 1, 2018. For any­one who has been deaf to the ‘ drum- beat’ of the last two years (or so), now is very much the time to not only start think­ing about up­grad­ing your com­pli­ance, but to ac­tu­ally start do­ing it.

Speak­ing ob­jec­tively, there is re­ally no ex­cuse. The last two years have seen a quick­en­ing of aware­ness and ac­tiv­ity around the im­pend­ing changes.

The Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor ( NHVR) has rolled out a sig­nif­i­cant aware­ness-rais­ing cam­paign, across var­i­ous sec­tors of the sup­ply chain.

It has made con­sid­er­able re­sources avail­able through its web­site.

The NHVR’s car­a­van has been fol­lowed by var­i­ous in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tions and con­sul­tants, all in an ef­fort to raise aware­ness and of­fer as­sis­tance around un­der­stand­ing obli­ga­tions and tai­lor­ing a com­pli­ance pro­gram to meet those obli­ga­tions.

A joint ef­fort of the Aus­tralian Lo­gis­tics Coun­cil and Aus­tralian Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion has pro­duced a mas­ter code of prac­tice to guide par­ties in de­vis­ing com­pli­ance sys­tems to meet the new laws.

At this stage, it is al­most im­pos­si­ble to know how suc­cess­ful those ef­forts have been.

Our ex­pe­ri­ence tells us that sev­eral large Aus­tralian busi­nesses have de­voted con­sid­er­able time and ex­pense in up­grad­ing their com­pli­ance in prepa­ra­tion for the new laws go­ing live.

Road- users, in­clud­ing heavy ve­hi­cle driv­ers, should be grat­i­fied to know that our roads are that much safer as a re­sult of these ini­tia­tives.

We sus­pect the ‘ 80/ 20 rule’ will ap­ply – with around 20 per cent of rel­e­vant busi­nesses be­ing aware of and un­der­stand­ing the changes in the law and im­ple­ment­ing prop­erly tar­geted and re­spon­sive steps to pre­pare and 80 per cent of busi­nesses mis­un­der­stand­ing or un­der­es­ti­mat­ing their en­hanced chain of re­spon­si­bil­ity (COR) obli­ga­tions to a g reater or lesser ex­tent.

That is, we very rarely come across busi­nesses that are 100 per cent com­pli­ant. How­ever, this split in it­self is prob­a­bly an im­prove­ment over the lev­els of com­pli­ance with ‘ old COR’.

CHAL­LENGED SEC­TORS

If we were to sin­gle out two ‘ chal­lenged’ sec­tors, we would iden­tify:

Con­tainer­ised im­ports

Im­port con­tain­ers must be packed and their con­tents se­cured to Aus­tralian stan­dards ( re­fer to Load

Re­straint Guide 2018), not the stan­dard at the place of ex­port. The vol­ume and na­ture of con­tainer trades means it’s im­pos­si­ble to rou­tinely open and in­spect in­side con­tain­ers when they ar­rive at the wharf and be­fore they take to the roads. Truck driv­ers and op­er­a­tors are of­ten at the “front- line” when deal­ing with the con­se­quences of poorly packed and se­cured con­tain­ers – but it is the im­porter’s job un­der the COR to tell its sup­pli­ers how con­tain­ers must be packed and to check that this in­struc­tion is be­ing fol­lowed.

Ru­ral in­dus­tries

A po­ten­tially lethal com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors (in­clud­ing long dis­tances, dis­persed de­mo­graphic and, in some in­stances, a ‘ fron­tier’ at­ti­tude) con­tinue to chal­lenge com­pli­ance for ru­ral in­dus­tries. That does not mean that con­sid­er­able ef­forts are not be­ing made to get the mes­sage across and en­cour­age com­pli­ance in ma­jor cities. Hope­fully those ef­forts will bear fruit.

BIG­GEST MIS­STEPS

If we were to sin­gle out the three big­gest mis­steps by busi­ness in deal­ing with their COR obli­ga­tions, we would iden­tify:

COR ap­plies to all trans­port ac­tiv­i­ties

Many busi­nesses still only fo­cus on COR for out­bound trans­port ac­tiv­i­ties re­lat­ing to pri­mary goods i. e. when they send out the main goods with which the busi­ness deals. How­ever, the COR laws ap­ply to all heavy ve­hi­cle trans­port ac­tiv­i­ties – in or out. So, in ad­di­tion to ad­dress­ing COR com­pli­ance for any out­bound move­ment, busi­nesses need to con­sider COR im­pli­ca­tions for in­bound goods, ma­te­ri­als and equip­ment sup­plies. Fur­ther, COR laws ap­ply to the heavy ve­hi­cle move­ment of all goods, not just the main out­puts of the busi­ness. So, COR laws might also ap­ply to the in­bound de­liv­ery of fer­tiliser, feed, fill or raw ma­te­ri­als and the out­bound re­moval of agri­cul­tural waste, rub­bish or soil/spoil.

• You need to take all steps to ad­dress safety, not just some

Do­ing some­thing in re­la­tion to COR is bet­ter than do­ing noth­ing. How­ever, the com­pli­ance obli­ga­tion is for busi­nesses to take all rea­son­ably prac­ti­ca­ble steps to ad­dress safety, not just some or even most. So, busi­nesses need to think about their COR risks and com­pli­ance mea­sures from a num­ber of an­gles and plug any holes.

• A COR risk man­age­ment sys­tem is es­sen­tial

Many busi­nesses ad­dress COR on an ad hoc ba­sis – when a safety risk is iden­ti­fied, it is dealt with in iso­la­tion. This can mean there is no uni­fied over­view of busi­ness op­er­a­tions as a whole and can re­sult in con­flict­ing or very in­com­plete safety man­age­ment. Hav­ing in place a cen­tral COR com­pli­ance pol­icy, work­ing pro­ce­dures, set of con­tract clauses, mon­i­tor­ing and re­port­ing sys­tem is the best way to en­sure you aren’t leav­ing your­self, and your work­ers and other road users, ex­posed. The mes­sage that COR is all about safety can some­times be lost in the clut­ter of reg­u­la­tion and com­pli­ance. Per­haps a sim­ple touch­stone of ef­fec­tive com­pli­ance should be: “will this im­prove safety?”

“The COR laws ap­ply to all heavy ve­hi­cle trans­port ac­tiv­i­ties.”

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