The changes introduced to the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) under the National Heavy Vehicle Law (NHVL) in the recent past, mandates that everyone in the supply chain has an obligation to ensure vehicle transport safety & that all parties must do what is reasonably practicable to ensure the safety of their transport activities. Given the fact that the Agriculture sector is massively dependent on heavy vehicle transport as part of its supply chain, it has become imperative for businesses to reduce risks related to agriculture transport tasks. Hence it is crucial for agri-businesses to be aware of the changes to the CoR laws, to identify gaps in their current Safety and Compliance management processes and take necessary measures to bridge the gaps.
CoR in simple terms means that all parties who are involved in any form of transport-related activity, is accountable for their own safety.
There has been significant changes to how the vehicle transport laws has been interpreted and managed over the years. Erstwhile, any and every transport related offence went back to the driver (overloading a spreader as an example). This did not help with driving the right behaviour within the vehicle transport arm of the agriculture business, including farming, spreading and fertiliser logistics management.
In the mid 2000s, the concept of CoR was brought into existence in Australia. This ensured that the vehicle transport laws were robust and everyone in the chain was accountable for safety. In the instance of an overloaded truck being pulled over- the driver of the truck, the business owner, the person who loaded the vehicle, the assigning party and the receiving party would all be treated as guilty of an offence, as opposed to just having the driver being liable. This change put the duty back on everyone to work together, and ensure safety compliance. These laws were purely focused on compliance with respect to the core competencies of mass, dimension, fatigue, load and speed. However, this change did see a significant drop in the number of offences.
The recent changes introduced to CoR on 1st October 2018, has brought in more consistency in road safety laws, with an intent to look beyond the core competency and bring a wholistic view on road & transport safety. As a result Work, Health and Safety (WHS) laws were aligned with National Heavy Vehicle law (NHVL). The big change introduced as part of the amendment is that, every party in the supply chain has a duty to ensure the safety of their transport activities. This shifted the focus to eliminate or minimise potential harm or risk by doing all that is reasonably practicable to ensure safety, and not just when a breach occurred.
As an agri-business owner, the recent changes has also forced a positive culture change and the organisations are required to take a hard look at their current process and systems to ensure safety and compliance. The emphasis has been placed on capturing evidence on tracking safety & compliance measures.
The best way to comply with the duties under the Heavy Vehicle National law is to have a Safety Management System (SMS) in place. This includes training, procedures and business practices to identify risk, manage compliance & reporting and document actions taken to manage safety. The biggest benefit of having a SMS is that the business can provide a safer work environment for its employees, customers, contractors and the public. Software platforms like Kiri Align (safety and compliance management system) help with managing SMS digitally, which is very easy to setup and use.
In conclusion, it is important for businesses operating in the Agricultural sector to have a think about the following to ensure CoR compliance under the National Heavy Vehicle Law: