NHVR moves against customer COR overreaction


Regulator and SARTA toll bell on big firm misconception burdens

NHVR moves against customer COR overreaction
Geoff Casey

 

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is seeking to head off unintended developments related to recent Chain of Responsibility (COR) reforms, an issue that is also of concern to state industry bodies.   

The NHVR has warned heavy vehicle operators to be aware of their responsibilities under the changed COR laws after several reports of unnecessary pressure to disclose additional information from larger customers beyond that required under the current provisions.

"For example, we have been contacted by a number of operators after they were asked to provide details of their drivers’, safety systems and work diaries by a customer claiming they were required to be provided under COR laws," NHVR safety standards and assurance executive director Geoff Casey.

"Operators are required to meet their safety duty requirements under the recent changes by ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of their transport activities.

"There are some great tools available for operators through the NHVR’s Safety Management System or the Registered Industry Code of Practice to give detailed guidance for operators.

"This level of information is not required by a customer or primary contractor under the law.

"The law makes it clear that it’s the transport operator’s responsibility to manage their own operations and activities so as to ensure safety under the primary and safety duty provisions."

Casey underlines that each party in the heavy vehicle supply chain was liable and responsible to the extent of their level of influence and control over the particular transport task. 


Read how COR realities have impacted on brokers and forwarders, here


The NHVR has been made aware of a number of similar instances during 13 information sessions conducted for over 400 businesses during February and March.

South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) executive officer Steve Shearer says many members had expressed their dismay at the unintended and unnecessary administrative and cost burden that too many customers are imposing on road transport operators by over-reacting to the COR provisions.

"A customer who engages a road transport operator to move their freight does not generally have influence or control over the operator’s drivers, nor over the maintenance of the trucks," Shearer adds.

"Customers need to be aware that the more they seek to micro-manage road transport suppliers, the more they will increase their level of influence and control and in doing so they will significantly increase their own legal liability under the COR law and unnecessarily increase their own compliance costs.

"Customers are entitled to rely upon the fact that their transport operators have systems and procedures in place to manage their own safety responsibilities, provided the customers don’t prevent or inhibit the transport operators’ and drivers’ ability to be compliant.

"Corporate customers, including prime contractor transport operators, need to review their CoR practices and procedures to ensure that their business meets its CoR responsibilities while avoiding taking this beyond their business’ level of influence and control under the HVNL."

Casey says a customer or primary contractor may request additional information under a commercial arrangement that is subject to agreement but it is not a requirement under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

"Both parties need to work together to ensure that they each understand their respective responsibilities, including the limits of those responsibilities, and that they each manage those responsibilities effectively."

The customer is likely to have influence and control over:

  • the deadlines and schedules for freight to be moved and delivered
  • whether or not the customer’s operational practices in their depots adversely impact on drivers’ effective fatigue management, such as delays in loading or unloading that adversely influence the driver complying with work and rest requirements
  • whether or not the freight is loaded and restrained correctly, when the customer’s staff perform these tasks
  • whether or not the customer’s business practices including payment terms and other contractual matters, cause or encourage breaches of the law
  • where customers load and restrain the freight, they are responsible for that and if they seal the load they can’t require the driver to sign-off on it.

Correctly declaring the mass of the freight to the transport operator.

Under the primary and safety duty provisions, customers don’t need to require truck operators to provide:

  • service and maintenance records for trucks
  • drivers’ names and licence details
  • access to speed monitoring of the trucks
  • access to drivers’ Written Work Diaries.

 

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