Need for COR expansion
The changes to Chain of Responsibility should be welcomed by the Transport Workers Union
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.
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.