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What is the Chain of Responsibility? (UPDATED JUNE 2020)

BY MATTHEW PEARSON - TECH WRITER, FLEET MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS ADVOCATE AND CHAIN OF RESPONSIBILITY EXPERT

BY MATTHEW PEARSON - TECH WRITER, FLEET MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS ADVOCATE AND CHAIN OF RESPONSIBILITY EXPERT

LAST UPDATE 27 JUNE 2020

Infographic

Chain of Responsibility Infographic

Video

Chain of Responsibility Overview

The Australian Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) law governs the use of heavy vehicles in Australia.  It recognizes that many people in the transportation supply chain have an influence on the actions taken by drivers, loaders, maintenance crews, and so on. This is known as the Chain of Responsibility.  The purpose of Chain of Responsibility legislation is for all these people to share responsibility to ensure breaches of the law do not happen. They include –

  • Employer or prime contractor of the driver
  • Drivers
  • Schedulers
  • Consignors
  • Consignees
  • Packers
  • Loading managers and loaders
  • Unloaders

If you are one of these people, use heavy vehicles in your operation, and have the ability to control any transport-related task, then you have a shared responsibility to comply with the HNVL legislation.  You must minimise safety risks, and so anyone involved in the chain of responsibility may be held liable in case of a breach of the law.

Examples of when Chain of Responsibility legislation may apply include –

  • When someone can influence a transportation activity and does not attempt to manage any risk created
  • When business practices encourage drivers to exceed legal speed, load or rest limits, or drive whilst tired
  • When instructions or demands contribute to a HVNL offence
  • Schedulers that cause drivers to exceed speed limits
  • When vehicles are not maintained to legal standards
  • A manager who does not ensure a driver has the correct licence for their vehicle

If a case covered under HVNL regulation goes to court, the prosecution will attempt to demonstrate that someone in the Chain of Responsibility was negligent in some way.  Directors, managers, CEO’s can be held liable under specific offenses that include jail terms of up to five years, and fines of up to $300,000 for individuals and $3,000,000 for companies.

In one recent example, NVHR accepted an Enforcement Undertaking valued at $249,000 for chain of responsibility education from Laing O’Rourke Australia Construction Pty Ltd, due to failure to comply with mass requirements.  For more details, see here.

Your organisation is legally required to have systems in place to –

  • Manage risk
  • Manage compliance, including –
    • speed
    • load
    • vehicle standards
    • driver rest periods
  • Produce reporting for management
  • Document safety related actions

The NHVR provide plenty of information about CoR here.

One of the key tools is their gap assessment tool.

By completing this self assessment, you will see that compliance with Chain of Responsibility legislation is a big task that covers many departments in your organisation. However, one of the key components to CoR compliance is a Fleet Management System.

How to Implement Chain of Responsibility?

The NHVR (National Heavy Vehicle Regulator) recommends:

the best way to do this is to have Safety Management Systems (SMS) and controls in place, such as business practices, training, procedures and review processes that:

  • identify, assess, evaluate, and control risk
  • manage compliance with speed, fatigue, mass, dimension, loading and vehicle standards requirements through identified best practice
  • involve regular reporting, including to executive officers
  • document or record actions taken to manage safety.

(source: https://www.nhvr.gov.au/safety-accreditation-compliance/chain-of-responsibility/changes-to-cor)

Fleet management systems can be a key part of the implementation of Chain of Responsibility requirements –

“identify, assess, evaluate, and control risk”

  • Driver Coaching: System monitors live driver behaviour (eg seatbelt use, speed, stop sign violation), suggests improvements. Leaderboards incentivise safer driving.
  • Detect incidents immediately for rapid response by using crash detection functionality
  • Incident Replay: See exactly what happened and modify future processes as appropriate

“manage compliance with speed, fatigue, mass, dimension, loading and vehicle standards requirements through identified best practice”

– “Speed”:

  • Monitor (and record) real-time driver behaviour including distance travelled and speeding infringements via GPS tracking
  • In-cab driver coaching helps ensure real-time compliance
  • Recorded data on journey times and routes makes drivers more accountable for their vehicle use.

– “Fatigue”:

  • Electronic Work Diary functionality to record working time and manage rest periods

– “Mass”:

  • On-board monitoring of mass per axle

– “Vehicle Standards”:

  • Pre Start Checklist; identify vehicle defects and track their repairs to ensure vehicles remain roadworthy
  • Preventive Maintenance based on distance travelled or fault codes that are automatically created by in-vehicle sensors

“regular reporting, including to executive officers”:

  • Automatically create speeding and other infringement reports
  • Automatically create vehicle defect reports

“document or record actions taken to manage safety”:

  • Record speeding and other infringement history, and disciplinary actions
  • Record axle mass history
  • Record vehicle defect reports and follow up actions
  • Record drivers’ working and rest periods

In addition to supporting Chain of Responsibility requirements, fleet management systems can also help deliver fuel and labour savings, help optimise fuel tax credits, and increase customer satisfaction.

For more information, click on the links below.

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