Peak industry bodies mark HVNL reform date

October 1 to be a historic marker in freight transport law

Peak industry bodies mark HVNL reform date
Transport COR reforms are now in force


Peak transport and logistics industry representatives and regulators have marked the date Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) reforms see Chain Of Responsibility (COR) change.

National Road Transport Association (Natroad) flags the well-signposted "go live" day as one of special significance.

"Getting chain of responsibility right should be a priority for every transport operator," CEO Warren Clark.

"Until the number of fatal accidents involving trucks in Australia is zero, there is always more that we can do as an industry.  That’s why it’s critical that the industry gets behind the toughening of chain of responsibility laws. 

"The changes include significant increases in penalties for offences that directly or indirectly cause or encourage the driver of a heavy vehicle or another person to contravene the HVNL, or the driver to exceed a speed limit (up to $3 million or five-years imprisonment for the most serious offences).

"We welcome these changes, as they focus all parties in the supply chain sharing responsibility for ensuring breaches of the HVNL do not occur."

That said, Clark is adamant that reform still has a way to go to become as effective as it needs to be. 

"NatRoad wants these reforms to go even further," he says.

"They are a welcome reform, but we believe they could be expanded.

"The latest reforms are limited to specific parties and only to the extent, each party has the capacity to ‘influence and control’ rather than ‘influence or control’ of the safety of the transport activity.

"NatRoad has put a proposal to Government and the Opposition that the HVNL should be expanded to make all parties in the supply chain more responsible for what happens on-road, including those who currently escape liability such as digital platforms.

"We will also look critically at the way the new enforcement regime is applied. Parties must know that enforcement up the chain is likely and therefore regulators must allocate enough resources to this element of the law.

Natroad believes truck drivers should also be able to report breaches of regulations which impact on their safety without adverse consequences. 

"We support the recent introduction of a confidential telephone service by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator for participants in the heavy vehicle industry and supply chain to report operational safety issues relating to heavy vehicle transport activities," Clark says.

"Information on the strengthened laws has been prepared for members and others.  

"We have a COR handbook, toolkit and webinar series on the NatRoad website which we hope will reinforce the way that the new COR laws will enhance safety,"

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) urges all its members to study the COR changes.

"It is imperative that those who operate, load, drive or send and receive goods using a heavy vehicle understand what these changes mean for their business – and proactively take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance with their obligations," ALC interim CEO Lachlan Benson says.

"The COR changes that begin today reinforce the fact that safety is the responsibility of all parties in the supply chain.

"It is very important that industry participants take their safety obligations seriously.

"Companies cannot contract out their COR obligations – no matter what their industry sector or part of the supply chain."

"As an industry leader with a firm commitment to enhanced supply chain safety, ALC has been working to help industry get ready for these expanded COR provisions."

Benson insists the industry master code of practice, being , developed jointly by ALC and the Australian Trucking Association (ATA), should be viewed as a crucial tool for gauging COR compliance under the new regime.

"This master code will be an invaluable resource for industry participants seeking advice about how to properly identify and manage safety risks," Benson says.

"The COR changes coming into effect today, coupled with practical safety initiatives such as the master code, are a clear demonstration of the freight logistics industry’s commitment to enhancing supply chain safety, and creating safer roads for all Australians."

Read what the master code of practice aims to give managers, here

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) takes the opportunity to remind members and transport operators that the amendments mean every party in the heavy vehicle transport supply chain has a duty to ensure the safety of their transport activities.

"In practical terms, this represents an obligation by an operator to eliminate, or minimise possible harm or loss, by doing all that is reasonably practicable to ensure safety," it says.

"Operators – as key parties in the supply chain – need to have safety management systems 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.

"The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has played a leading role in the development of these amendments and, in conjunction with the VTA, has consulted broadly with industry on them for many months."

The regulators

National Transport Commission (NTC) and NHVR acknowledge today as a "road safety milestone".

NTC acting chief executive Dr Geoff Allan says these reforms, developed by NTC over several years of close consultation with industry and government, respond to calls to improve the safety and productivity of road transport operations.

"The priority was to create greater clarity and consistency of COR laws while reinforcing that all parties who influence heavy vehicle safety must act responsibly.

"Operators, consignors, consignees and loading managers all have a role to help ensure road users can get home safely at the end of each day."

"The reforms remove prescriptive obligations, providing greater flexibility for industry in how they achieve safety outcomes. They also encourage parties in the chain to be proactive in managing risks. This performance-based approach to regulation will underpin our upcoming review of the HVNL," Dr Allan says.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto says the NHVR has been working with many of the 165,000 businesses across the heavy vehicle supply chain to prepare for these important changes.

"These reforms recognise that every party in the heavy vehicle transport supply chain has a duty to ensure safety," Petroccitto says.

"The best way to do this is to have safety management systems and controls in place, such as business practices, training and procedures.

Included in HVNL changes taking effect today are the loading performance standards, which have been transferred from the Load Restraint Guide for heavy vehicles into the HVNL.

The Load Restraint Guide will continue to provide guidance on appropriate methods for restraining loads.

The NTC completed the review and update of the latest Load Restraint Guide in 2017 and will hand over future maintenance of the guide to the NHVR.


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