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Chain of ignorance binds parts of industry

The chain of responsibility has been around for two decades but the national regulator says it’s taking too long to sink in


Many trucking operators and customers clearly have a long way to go in getting up to speed on chain of responsibility (COR).

Early results from a big survey of trucking operators and customers show 1 in 5 still don’t have adequate COR training for managers.

The survey was of 800 transport and logistics supply chain businesses for the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

The full report is due out next year and is part of the NHVR’s program to improve COR education and awareness, from big companies to small across the entire supply chain.

The program recently includes information sheets and podcasts on its website.

The NHVR is also looking forward to improved provisions in the law, expected in the first half of 2018, to make COR investigations and prosecutions easier, for example by targeting unsafe practices rather than waiting for an accident to happen.

Of course, the trucking industry has been calling for better education and tougher enforcement since soon after COR was first mooted in Australia more than two decades ago.

“You’re right, this has been going since 1994,” NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto tells ATN.

“I’m hoping that what industry will see over the next couple of years is that in a very short period of time we’ve probably been able to get to a level where many in the industry have been hoping would have been achieved earlier on.”

In relation to the massive issue of waiting, ATN asks Petroccitto what he thinks of the call from across the trucking industry for customers to be compelled to pay for waiting time.

“Look that’s a difficult one in terms of compulsory paid time,” he responds.

“What we have been doing is spending a lot of time going out and talking to a number of the large distribution centres, across the board.

“We know that queues are an issue in a number of areas, whether it’s a receiving point for grain, or it might be at a port or it might be at a DC.

Really, it’s been about I suppose lifting their understanding and awareness of their obligations.”


NHVR as top cop on COR?

However, Petroccitto suggests that one day the NHVR could be at the pointy end of COR, itself asking the hard investigative questions of distribution centres and other loading/unloading customers.

“I’m not going to say yes or no to that but what we’re looking at is what’s the best way to deliver it (COR enforcement),” Petroccitto says.

“Maybe in three or four years it could definitely be an NHVR officer knocking on the door.”

In fact the NHVR already has an office in South Australia where it is carrying out COR investigation and prosecution functions.

Petroccitto says he’s now happy with the NHVR’s level of funding for its COR work, which includes policy; getting national consistency in COR; and giving advice to the states and territories on running investigations and prosecutions.

But he wouldn’t be drawn too far on the adequacy of state enforcement resources.

“They vary,” he says, adding: “Significant resources have been applied in NSW”.

Check out the full feature in an upcoming issue of ATN. Subscribe here



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