As mentioned in the October edition of Insight, in mid-2018 the requirements of the Heavy Vehicle National Legislation are changing. Now is the time for effected organisations to start getting ready for the changes.

By design the Heavy Vehicle ‘Chain of Responsibility’ Legislation is broad, extending from the vehicle driver to encompass persons or organisations fulfilling the roles of consignor, scheduler, packer, loader and the consignee, with each of these roles sharing parts of responsibility for the goods, plant or persons transported by trucks or buses (weighting more the 4.5t). The structure of the Legislation is inter-connected with each of the roles.

For example, it is not only the driver that may be held accountable for breaching fatigue requirements or the speed limits; the responsibility also sits with the consignor and scheduler to ensure that the prescribed transport schedule does not direct or influence the driver to exceed the fatigue or speed requirements.

A recent presentation at QRMC’s Safety Networking Group function from Michael Crellin, the Manager – Chain of Responsibility – Regulatory Compliance at the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, detailed the current ‘National’ Heavy Vehicle legislative framework, and the changes that are due to take effect in mid-next year.

The current legislation focuses on the mass, dimensions and restraint of the load, as well as fatigue and speed management, considering each of the above roles in the Chain of Responsibility and how they need to contribute to a safe operational environment.

The legislative changes to take effect next year will position the legislation to be similar to the current WHS Legislation, embedding the requirement to have a risk management focus within the organisation procedures.  It will also introduce vehicle standards requirements – for most personnel in the supply chain this correlates to the requirement to observe, report and record any identified issues.

The changes will also mandate that Executive Officers will be held directly accountable (in the same manner in which the WHS Legislation applies) with the capacity to review the organisation’s business practices and risk management frameworks to determine if the fulfilment of the legislative requirements has in fact occurred.

It was also noted by Michael that the ‘Chain of Responsibility’ requirements necessitate the need for organisations to look outside the box and consider the potential impacts. This includes purchasing product overseas and having it transported by containerised freight – a recent case in NSW was explored whereby the organisation was held legally accountable for a fatal injury when their building plaster products become de-stabilised within their containerised transport, causing a load-shift and the container to topple onto a passing motorist.

Michael strongly advocated the use of the NHVR ‘Chain of Responsibility’ Assessment Tool, as it steps through the various roles in the ‘Chain’ and enables the development of an action plan to ensure that any gaps for the various roles are addressed.

Please contact QRMC for assistance in redeveloping your systems and process to manage heavy vehicle and procurement risks, and ensure compliance with the legislative changes.