Australia, Transport News

$1.2 million HVNL punishment shows need for proactive chain of responsibility

A Brisbane company was last week fined $1.2 million for a HVNL breach. Transport lawyer Nick Wilson discusses how transport companies can avoid a similar fate

A recent fining of a Brisbane company for $1.2 million under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) has provided another timely reminder of what companies need to be aware of as a party in the chain of responsibility.

Foley Contracting was last week fined $1.2 million for contravening its primary safety duty under the HVNL after one of the company’s trucks rolled over in Townsville in August 2020.

The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads decided to investigate the incident, which resulted in the company being charged with 37 offences relating to driver fatigue.

This incident acts as a refresher for transport companies about HVNL responsibilities and comes after a similar recent convictions against a NSW transport company and two schedulers for their role in the chain of responsibility.

McInnes Wilson Lawyers associate Nick Wilson has released a guide on what operators and schedulers need to be aware of regarding the HVNL following the conviction of De Paoli Transport.

The NSW linehaul freight specialist that operates 32 vehicles between Leeton and Brisbane, as well as Sydney to Melbourne, alongside two schedulers, were collectively fined $210,000 for failing to comply with HVNL obligations as parties in the chain of responsibility.

As a party in this chain, De Paoli Transport had a duty to ensure the safety of transport activities as an employer of drivers and an operator of heavy vehicles.

The company was found to have committed a category two offence by contravening the primary duty under HVNL and was fined $180,000, while two schedulers involved in this were fined $15,000 each.

Wilson says this shows that all parties in the chain of responsibility must take proactive steps to discharge their duties and obligations under the HVNL to not expose individuals to a risk of death or serious injury or illness.

“Importantly, it’s not necessary for an accident or incident to have occurred for a prosecution to be brought against a company or individual,” Wilson says.

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