'Ignorant' operators risk chain of responsibility breach

Trucking companies run the risk of chain of responsibility prosecution due to ignorance of the laws and opposition to change

'Ignorant' operators risk chain of responsibility breach
'Ignorant' operators risking chain of responsibility breach
By Brad Gardner

Trucking companies are running the risk of prosecution under chain of responsibility due to ignorance of the laws and opposition to change.

A leading training provider says there is a widespread lack of knowledge of chain of responsibility provisions in the industry, with some operators blatantly refusing to comply due to "cultural resistance".

Chris Rowlands from Freightrain says big-name trucking and logistics companies are spending the money to train and educate their staff, but many others are taking a carefree approach.

"The vast majority of the market, without a shadow of a doubt, is broadly ignorant," Rowlands says.

"People are really taking the risk and running the gauntlet."

Rowlands says some trucking companies are steadfastly opposing the laws on the basis they should not be forced to change long-held practices.

Freightrain, which is a joint venture between JSCC Management and BSI Learning, is also finding many customers and clients do not understand they are now accountable for how goods are delivered.

"It would be fair to say the market in general is struggling with that concept," Rowlands says.

Operators heavily reliant on sub-contractors are also at a higher risk of violating chain of responsibility requirements, according to Freightrain.

Referring to it as "the nightmare scenario", Rowlands says some companies cannot determine if sub-contractors are compliant because they do not have access to all of their necessary documentation.

He says the issue is particularly relevant in regional and remote areas where outsourcing work is the only way to deliver goods.

While Freightrain estimates it will cost a company of about 100 employees $20,000 to $30,000 to gain chain of responsibility accreditation, Rowlands says the cost of breaching the laws is a lot more expensive.

The director of Bullin, which went into liquidation in 2007, was ordered to pay more than $160,000 in fines and costs. John Bogden was charged with 97 offences and the court also banned him from operating a heavy vehicle on NSW roads.

Food manufacturer Steggles was ordered to pay $54,000 in fines and court fees for accepting "substantially and severely overloaded" trucks on 31 separate occasions.

NSW Minister for Roads Michael Daley used the news of the two prosecutions to warn all parties in the supply chain to comply with the laws.

"These judgements should make every trucking company and freight forwarder that sends or orders goods in Australia sit up and take notice," he says.

A Victorian freight customer was also recently fined $30,000 for chain of responsibility breaches.

Rowlands says Freightrain runs its own chain of responsibility course, with those trained receiving nationally recognised accreditation and a Certificate 2 in Transport and Warehousing.

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