Need for COR ex­pan­sion

The changes to Chain of Re­spon­si­bil­ity should be wel­comed by the Trans­port Work­ers Union

Owner Driver - - Natroad - War­ren Clark

THE STRENGTH­ENED CHAIN OF RE­SPON­SI­BIL­ITY (COR) laws which com­menced on Oc­to­ber 1 seem to have been ig­nored by the Trans­port Work­ers Union (TWU). The TWU in a re­cent com­men­tary on the di­rec­tion of fa­tigue-re­lated re­search said that fi­nan­cial pres­sure is a root cause of fa­tigue not re­ceiv­ing ad­e­quate at­ten­tion. But if the TWU has knowl­edge of drivers who are be­ing forced to drive long hours while fa­tigued and to skip their rest breaks, then they should re­port this be­hav­iour to the au­thor­i­ties be­cause the new COR laws have mas­sive penal­ties (in­clud­ing jail where reck­less­ness is in­volved) and must be en­forced.

The Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor has also been given stronger en­force­ment pow­ers to in­ves­ti­gate COR of­fences. The new COR laws are a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward in recog­nis­ing that ev­ery­one in the supply chain has a role to play in en­sur­ing heavy ve­hi­cle safety.

The time has come for cases to be mounted against those who cause the fa­tigue laws to be breached. For ex­am­ple, the COR laws ap­ply to con­signors, who are legally li­able for breaches of the Heavy Ve­hi­cle Na­tional Law (HVNL) even though they have no di­rect role in driv­ing or op­er­at­ing a heavy ve­hi­cle. If their ac­tions, in­ac­tions or de­mands cause or con­trib­ute to an of­fence, they can and should be held legally ac­count­able.

A key el­e­ment of the new re­forms is that it is an of­fence for any per­son to en­ter into a con­tract that would have the ef­fect of caus­ing or en­cour­ag­ing a driver to ex­ceed a speed limit or breach fa­tigue rules.

This em­pha­sis on en­sur­ing that con­tracts don’t cause breaches of the fa­tigue or speed­ing laws is a very real cat­a­lyst for con­signors and con­signees to look at their con­tracts. We are ask­ing mem­bers to check their con­tracts and agree­ments to en­sure they do not de­mand or en­cour­age un­law­ful be­hav­iour.

LIMITED RE­FORMS

While the re­forms are an im­por­tant step for­ward, NatRoad wants COR to go even fur­ther. The laws that be­gan op­er­at­ing from Oc­to­ber 1 are a wel­come re­form, but we be­lieve they could be ex­panded and we want the TWU’s sup­port for this ex­pan­sion.

The lat­est re­forms are limited to spe­cific par­ties and only to the ex­tent each party has the ca­pac­ity to ‘’in­flu­ence and con­trol’’, rather than “in­flu­ence or con­trol” the safety of the trans­port ac­tiv­ity.

NatRoad has put a pro­posal to govern­ment and the op­po­si­tion that the HVNL should be ex­panded to make all par­ties in the supply chain more re­spon­si­ble for what hap­pens on-road, in­clud­ing those who cur­rently es­cape li­a­bil­ity such as dig­i­tal plat­forms.

We will also look crit­i­cally at the way the new en­force­ment regime is ap­plied and hold reg­u­la­tors to ac­count. Par­ties must know that en­force­ment up the chain is likely and there­fore reg­u­la­tors must al­lo­cate enough re­sources to this el­e­ment of the law.

Truck drivers should be able to re­port breaches of reg­u­la­tions which im­pact on their safety with­out ad­verse con­se­quences. It’s crit­i­cal that the in­dus­try gets be­hind the tough­en­ing of COR laws.

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