Opinion: Focus on chain of responsibility

By: Noelene Watson


COR issues will be central aspect of Trucking Australia 2017

Opinion: Focus on chain of responsibility
Noelene Watson

 

One of the most important things to understand in the trucking industry today is your obligations under chain of responsibility (COR) and how they will change from next year.

From early 2018, the legislation will include a primary safety duty on all parties in the defined chain of responsibility, whether they are trucking businesses, consignors or consignees.

This duty will apply to their transport activities, which will be defined to include vehicle maintenance and repair.

To improve consistency, the duty of care will be amended to match the work health and safety standard of ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’.

Experience has shown that the current duty of care, ‘all reasonable steps’, has important practical difficulties.

To reduce complexity, an entire chapter of the legislation will be deleted because the safety issues addressed in the chapter will now be covered by the primary duty.

A range of other fiddly, prescriptive requirements will also be deleted.

The legislation will impose a due diligence obligation on company directors and executives, and this duty will apply to directors and executives of all parties in the defined chain of responsibility, not just trucking operators.

In prosecutions for breaches of this duty the authorities will have to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.

This approach is in line with the fundamental principles of our criminal law. Individuals should not have to prove they are innocent.

The change in the burden of proof will be accompanied by a substantial increase in maximum penalties to match the work, health and safety law and increased investigative powers.

Maximum penalties will increase dramatically, to $3 million for corporations and $300,000 or five years’ imprisonment or both for individuals.

This is why the ATA is committed to ensuring that operators, industry members, and state associations are aware of chain of responsibility and all of its implications.

One of the ways that the ATA is disseminating knowledge of chain of responsibility and what you need to do is through our upcoming event in June, Trucking Australia, which is being held in Darwin from 21 to 23 June.

Trucking Australia is the premier trucking industry event, and will feature open panel discussions that will address current industry concerns and matters.

These discussions will involve women in the industry workforce, the evolution and future of membership and preparing for the future, among other topics.

However one of the main focuses of the event will be on the changes to chain of responsibility, in a chain of responsibility due diligence training session.

The session is a formal two-hour professional development course giving attendants a full understanding of their obligations under the chain of responsibility reforms, and a certificate of attendance.

The certificate masterclass will be led by Aaron Anderson and Katherine Morris from Norton Rose Fulbright, along with an introduction by Sal Petroccitto from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).

Across the whole of Trucking Australia, our aim is to facilitate constructive forums for operators to express their views and actively participate in shaping the trucking industry’s policy agenda.

Delegates will share their experience as we develop industry action plans for the big issues facing trucking.

Delegates will be able to add directly to the plans through on-floor discussions, our delegate survey and real time social media feed.

This country depends on the trucking industry to be viable and functional. Even if you don’t leave your house the food in your fridge is brought to you by trucks.

Likewise, it is key for everyone involved in the trucking industry to have a full understanding of chain of responsibility, to maintain safety, viability and professionalism.

Trucking Australia 2017 delegate tickets are $595 and social tickets are $295 (including GST). For more information, go to www.truckingaustralia.com.au or call 02 6253 6900.

Noelene Watson is the former chair of the Australian Trucking Association.

 

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