As of October 1st 2018, the much-anticipated changes to the Heavy Vehicle National Law and Chain of Responsibility (CoR) rules took effect. While the overarching principle that all parties in the chain are responsible for ensuring safety remains in place, the legislative changes reflect the structure of the current WHS Legislation.

These adjustments include:

  • The standard of legal duty – the new approach removes the deemed liability for all parties and replaces it with a duty to take “all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the safety of their transport activities”.
  • Executive liability – the new standard requires Executives to exercise “due diligence” to ensure that their business complies with all duties under the CoR (similar to the requirements under the WHS Act).
  • Increased penalties – aligning with the existing WHS laws and in order to ensure that businesses give greater attention to CoR, the penalties have been raised.

This suite of changes are forward-looking, allowing organisations to look out the windscreen instead of driving while looking at the incidents in the rear-view mirror.

Overall, there is a closer alignment with WHS management systems. The changed standards bring them into line with the WHS requirements, and this means that existing management systems can be adapted to integrate CoR management. But while the national regulator is advocating the integration of HV CoR within current Management System processes, it is important to note that the alignment with WHS is not a complete alignment.

The Heavy Vehicle CoR requirements impose a greater responsibility on your organisation for the conduct of other parties within your supply chain, and a greater responsibility on you for the conduct of persons ‘off-site’. Also importantly, under CoR, you can be held responsible for the conduct of any party in your Supply Chain.

CoR responsibility is not site-based, nor is it employee/contractor-based: it is supply chain-based, and its matrix of responsibilities overlap and interweave with other personnel who operate external to your organisational structure – highlighting the need to document the requirements and expectations within contracts and service agreements.

Contact QRMC for assistance with making your management systems and contracts CoR-compliant.