Your obligations under the chain of responsibility laws
Any person who has an involvement in the transporting of goods from one place to another must comply with the Heavy Vehicle Transport law, effective from 1 October 2018.
From a retailer’s perspective this will include the Director of the Company or the Manager of the business and the consignee, that is the person who has agreed to be named on the transport documents or the receiver of the goods or the agent of the receiver and those who unload the goods.
There are good reasons why the new laws have been implemented. There have been increased accidents from heavy vehicles travelling too quickly on our roads to meet deadlines causing harm to workers and to the public generally and this has necessitated the making of laws that impose heavy fines on anyone involved in the CoR who fails in their duty of care. Every person in the CoR will have a primary duty to eliminate or minimise all risks associated within the supply chain. There will be an obligation to have a safety management system in place that will minimise the risk to all who may be affected by the transport activity and do everything that is practicably possible to minimise the risk of injury at the beginning, during and after the delivery of transportable goods. For example, the new law will require every person who is involved in the chain of responsibility (CoR) to take all reasonable steps to ensure a driver is prevented from driver fatigue due to a requirement to meet deadlines and of course this is aligned with the safety laws in each State.
You will need to know where you fit into the chain. So who is involved in the CoR?
The following list establishes where you are in the chain:
Executive officer - Director of a Company or manager of a company*
Employer of a driver of a heavy vehicle
Loader or an unloader*
*In a retail business or outlet, it is most likely that those directly affected by the CoR laws will be the Executive Officer, an Unloader or a Loader or a Consignee.
The Executive Officer will be responsible for ensuring that there are safety rules in place and ultimately this person will be liable if the laws are breached at any stage. Particularly there must be risk management controls in place which will include proper training, including hazard identification, communication of the safety requirements, monitoring of processes and a positive safety culture.
The Unloader / Loader must, as a party in the chain, consider how and where the goods are loaded, prevent breaches of mass dimension, speed and fatigue laws. As an unloader there is a responsibility to reduce harm or risk to self or other, consider and direct the safe unloading practices.
The Consignee has a responsibility to prevent any breach of fatigue and speed laws. You must assess any risks associated with the arrival and operation of the delivery of goods and ensure that you do not ask or direct any activities that may breach the law.
Some key responsibilities of the Consignee may include ensuring that:
Loads do not exceed vehicle mass or dimension limits
Goods carried on your behalf are appropriately secured
Operators carrying freight containers have a verified
Container Weight Declaration
Your delivery requirements do not require or encourage drivers to:
– Exceed the speed limits
– Exceed regulated driving hours
– Fail to meet the minimum rest requirements
– Drive while impaired by fatigue.
What are the possible penalties for a breach?
As a consignor, you could be held legally liable for breaches even though you have no direct role in driving or operating a heavy vehicle. Penalties and sanctions can range from formal warnings to court imposed fines and penalties relating to the commercial benefit derived from offences.
The benefits of having good safety performance in the CoR include ensuring safety standards, fulfilling your legal obligations, reducing costs and maintaining your business reputation.