SHAKEN TO THE COR

In the first of a three- part se­ries, we look at re­cent changes to the HVNL that could im­pact your prepa­ra­tions for the new chain of re­spon­si­bil­ity regime

Australian Transport News - - Operations + Strategy - WORDS AN­DREW HOBBS

A fter a se­ries of re­quests from trans­port and lo­gis­tics pro­fes­sion­als, the Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor (NHVR) dished out a re­prieve in June – the new chain of re­spon­si­bil­ity (COR) regime would com­mence on Oc­to­ber 1 – not July. As NHVR chief ex­ec­u­tive Sal Petroc­citto says, the ex­ten­sion “pro­vides the ad­di­tional time that some sec­tors were ask­ing for to pre­pare for the changes”.

It wasn’t an un­rea­son­able de­ci­sion – the im­mi­nent changes to COR leg­is­la­tion have seen com­pa­nies across Aus­tralia com­pelled to de­velop new plans and sharpen their fo­cus on their safety pro­cesses whether di­rectly in­volved in the sup­ply chain or not.

In a nut­shell, the COR changes to the Heavy Ve­hi­cle Na­tional Law (HVNL) bring it largely into line with the Work Health and Safety leg­is­la­tion that ap­plies in the same ju­ris­dic­tions – which from Oc­to­ber will be all Aus­tralian states and ter­ri­to­ries ex­cept the North­ern Ter­ri­tory and Western Aus­tralia.

The re­forms make it clear that ev­ery party in the heavy ve­hi­cle sup­ply chain – be they op­er­a­tors, load­ers or pack­ers, con­signors, ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cers or pri­mary pro­duc­ers – has a duty so far as is rea­son­ably prac­ti­cal to en­sure the safety of their trans­port ac­tiv­i­ties.

Fur­ther to this, all these par­ties could be held li­able if they fail to fully meet that obli­ga­tion to elim­i­nate or min­imise po­ten­tial harm or loss – and an ac­ci­dent need not have hap­pened for there to be a pros­e­cu­tion.

GREATER PENAL­TIES

With that change comes a rise in the po­ten­tial penal­ties for com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als who are found to have been lax in their at­ten­tion to COR com­pli­ance man­age­ment.

From Oc­to­ber 1, a cor­po­ra­tion found guilty of reck­lessly en­gag­ing in con­duct that ex­poses an in­di­vid­ual to the risk of death, se­ri­ous in­jury or ill­ness could be fined up to $3 mil­lion, or in the case of an in­di­vid­ual, $300,000 and up to five years in prison.

A Cat­e­gory 2 of­fence – for any con­tra­ven­tion of the law that ex­poses an in­di­vid­ual or a group to risk of death or in­jury could carry a $1.5 mil­lion fine for cor­po­ra­tions or $150,000 for an in­di­vid­ual – while a Cat­e­gory 3 of­fence for any other con­tra­ven­tion of duty could re­sult in fines of $500,000 for a cor­po­ra­tion and $50,000 for an in­di­vid­ual.

But what has sharp­ened the fo­cus of many in the in­dus­try even fur­ther is the fact that prose­cu­tions will now be eas­ier to bring un­der the HVNL.

The changes passed by the Queens­land par­lia­ment last month, and soon to be en­acted na­tion-wide, pro­vide a broader power to au­tho­rised of­fi­cers – not only po­lice of­fi­cers – to re­quire the in­spec­tion of a heavy ve­hi­cle fleet where there is a rea­son­able be­lief that the class of ve­hi­cles does not com­ply with the HVNL.

It also al­lows for ad­di­tional sanc­tions, in­clud­ing the is­sue of a pro­hi­bi­tion no­tice by an au­tho­rised of­fi­cer and the is­sue of an in­junc­tion by a court where there is non-com­pli­ance with the HVNL.

“What has sharp­ened the fo­cus of many in the in­dus­try even fur­ther is the fact that prose­cu­tions will now be eas­ier to bring un­der the HVNL.”

But re­cent changes to the HVNL and other pol­icy shifts will have an im­pact on the ac­tions com­pa­nies and their ex­ec­u­tives must take when the new laws are in­tro­duced.

THE SIXTH FAC­TOR – VE­HI­CLE STAN­DARDS

The changes add a new fac­tor to the ex­ist­ing five COR com­pli­ance com­po­nents of mass, di­men­sion, load­ing, speed and fa­tigue – this one re­lat­ing to Ve­hi­cle Stan­dards and en­sur­ing that they con­tinue to be met.

Much of the com­men­tary around this point frames the pol­icy as one of ve­hi­cle main­te­nance – say­ing a pre­ven­ta­tive ve­hi­cle main­te­nance pro­gram is vi­tal to en­sure a ve­hi­cle is road­wor­thy.

While the NHVL al­ready has es­tab­lished heavy ve­hi­cle stan­dards, ex­tend­ing ve­hi­cle main­te­nance to a COR com­po­nent means that all par­ties in the sup­ply chain will have some re­spon­si­bil­ity in re­la­tion to the road­wor­thi­ness of ve­hi­cles used.

Ac­cord­ing to fact sheets pre­pared by the NHVR, the changes to the Heavy Ve­hi­cle (Ve­hi­cle Stan­dards) Na­tional Reg­u­la­tion are “rel­a­tively mi­nor, with the ma­jor­ity be­ing made to align new and in-ser­vice ve­hi­cle safety stan­dards”.

They in­clude changes to warn­ing sign re­quire­ments for long ve­hi­cles and road trains, for sep­a­rate rear mark­ing plates when UN stan­dard mark­ings are fit­ted, dis­tinct mark­ings for hy­dro­gen and elec­tric pow­ered ve­hi­cles and changes to con­den­sate drain valve re­quire­ments.

MASS, DI­MEN­SION AND LOAD­ING

The same prin­ci­ple will ex­tend to the mass, di­men­sion and load­ing of freight ve­hi­cles, with all par­ties to be re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing the freight and its trans­port­ing ve­hi­cle are within weight lim­its, as well at the ob­ser­vance of proper pack­ing meth­ods.

Un­der re­cent changes to the laws, the sum of all axle groups on such a truck must not ex­ceed the new 46.5 tonne limit, with a trailer tri-axle group lim­ited to 20t, a tan­dem drive axle group to 16.5t and a twin­steer axle group lim­ited to 11t when fit­ted with a load-shar­ing sus­pen­sion sys­tem.

The to­tal axle mass of a tag trailer and dog and pig trail­ers must also not ex­ceed that of the ve­hi­cle tow­ing it.

In ad­di­tion to this, the NHVR will re­quire all re-use­able freight con­tain­ers to have a Con­tainer Weight Dec­la­ra­tion (CWD) be­fore be­ing trans­ported on pub­lic roads when the new laws kick in – with penal­ties if the CWD is false or other­wise in­ac­cu­rate.

While there is no spe­cific form for a CWD, it must in­clude in­for­ma­tion such as the weight of the con­tainer in­clud­ing its con­tents, a con­tainer num­ber, the ad­dress of the en­tity re­spon­si­ble for the con­tainer and the date of dec­la­ra­tion. It must also be able to be pro­duced in its en­tirety to an au­tho­rised of­fi­cer when re­quested – whether that is on­line or in a writ­ten doc­u­ment.

NO NEED FOR SPEED

The sec­tion of the HVNL which deals with speed­ing was un­changed in the most

re­cent amend­ments – with the leg­is­la­tion al­ready pre­scrib­ing du­ties to heavy ve­hi­cle driv­ers, sched­ulers, load­ing man­agers and con­sign­ers/con­signees.

That re­spon­si­bil­ity is to en­sure that their ac­tiv­i­ties do not en­cour­age or other­wise cause a driver to ex­ceed the speed limit – im­pos­ing a li­a­bil­ity on the peo­ple who may be re­spon­si­ble for any­thing that en­cour­ages them to do so. This can in­clude ask­ing a driver to de­liver a ship­ment within a time­frame that re­quires them to speed, or a lack of or­gan­i­sa­tion lead­ing to un­planned de­lays in pick­ing up or load­ing the goods to be shipped.

To help en­sure that this is not the case in your busi­ness, you may wish to re­view your con­tracts and other agree­ments with the groups in your sup­ply chain to make sure that they con­tain no in­cen­tives for speed­ing.

These may in­clude un­rea­son­able de­liv­ery sched­ules, key per­for­mance in­di­ca­tors which could re­sult in the con­tract be­ing ter­mi­nated if not met or liq­ui­dated dam­ages that ap­ply in the event of freight be­ing delivered late.

FA­TIGUE LAW

Like the speed laws, the HVNL sec­tions re­lat­ing to fa­tigue man­age­ment were un­changed in the most re­cent amend­ments – pre­scrib­ing a duty on em­ploy­ers and prime con­trac­tors, sched­ulers, load­ing man­agers, con­signors and con­signees to en­sure they do noth­ing to en­cour­age a driver to work while fa­tigued. But a Queens­land-spe­cific amend­ment passed by that state’s par­lia­ment in June could re­duce bur­dens for both de­fen­dants and the prose­cut­ing au­thor­ity in fa­tigue cases.

A re­port from the Queens­land Par­lia­ment’s Trans­port and Pub­lic Works Com­mit­tee says that pre­vi­ously, if a per­son had com­mit­ted mul­ti­ple fa­tigue-re­lated of­fences in dif­fer­ent court dis­tricts, the de­fen­dant must ap­pear in court pro­ceed­ings in each of the rel­e­vant dis­tricts.

“This is­sue is dis­tinct to fa­tigue of­fences be­cause the of­fences are con­tin­u­ing of­fences with each sin­gle jour­ney po­ten­tially giv­ing rise to mul­ti­ple of­fences, which may be com­mit­ted in dif­fer­ent court ju­ris­dic­tions,” the re­port says.

Al­low­ing mul­ti­ple of­fences to be held in a sin­gle Mag­is­trates Court will re­duce un­nec­es­sary bur­dens as well as giv­ing the state a sim­i­lar ap­proach to other ju­ris­dic­tions, where courts have a greater dis­cre­tion to de­ter­mine the lo­ca­tion of pro­ceed­ings.

MEET­ING NEW OBLI­GA­TIONS

ATN will look into the ways com­pa­nies can de­velop poli­cies, con­tracts and ex­ec­u­tive re­port­ing sys­tems to help pre­vent a breach of the law in our Septem­ber edi­tion, and will dis­cuss ways of man­ag­ing the chain of re­spon­si­bil­ity, as well as changes to rel­e­vant in­dus­try codes, in Oc­to­ber.

Fur­ther in­for­ma­tion about the obli­ga­tions of var­i­ous sup­ply chain mem­bers and a timetable of fu­ture in­dus­try in­for­ma­tion ses­sions to take place across Aus­tralia is avail­able from the NHVR web­site.

Above: NHVR chief ex­ec­u­tive Sal Petroc­cittoOp­po­site: Con­tain­ers must have a Con­tainer Weight Dec­la­ra­tion (CWD) be­fore be­ing trans­ported on pub­lic roads

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