COR changes and compliance matters discussed at CTAA Forum

By: Anjali Behl


Panel of experts led forum through COR amendments and what industry must do to ensure compliance

COR changes and compliance matters discussed at CTAA Forum
It was the third, and biggest, COR Forum hosted by CTAA this year.

 

Close to 150 exporters, importers, freight forwarders, transport operators and other industry professionals gathered at the Yarraville Club in Melbourne for a chain of responsibility (COR) seminar yesterday.

The forum was third in line of container-focused COR discussions organised by the Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) in association with the Freight and Trade Alliance (FTA), Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) and ICHCA Australia.

Similar information seminars were organised in Sydney and Brisbane earlier this month.

Presenters at yesterday’s discussion included National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) national investigations coordinator Bill Esteves, Holding Redlich partner Nathan Cecil, and Latus Logistics Risks Specialists director Mick Wood.

The event was hosted by CTAA director Neil Chambers.

The panel led the forum through how the changes will increase the responsibility on business owners and managers in the supply chain.

In line with NHVR’s effort to educate the industry on the upcoming changes to the COR laws, Esteves highlighted some of the key issues related to COR that affect or could potentially affect the container transport sector.

He discussed the differences between the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) as it stands now and the changes due to come about next year, and what the industry must consider to ensure compliance in the future.

"One of the objectives of the regulator is to bring out consistent application of the Heavy Vehicle National Law," Esteves says.

"There is a lot of work to do in that space.

"There are over 700 enforcement officers and inspectors who are working to help us achieve the objective of consistent application of the law."

He says industry code of practice is an opportunity for the industry to put together standards of best practice and these codes can go "a long way in addressing the hindrances to the application of the law".

NHVR believes the future of investigation is no longer just about the reaction to offences, it is about checking that systems are in place so that all transport activities are safe.

Esteves says within that space industry codes of practice can be a standard by which authorities can measure whether or not a transport activity is safe.

Cecil’s presentation focused on the legal aspects of COR, importance of compliance and how it is imperative for operators to understand their obligations.

He also discussed certain case studies and court rulings that elucidated these aspects.

Cecil says while it is true that road transport operators are "at the core" of the COR chain, it is essential for all supply chain participants to understand their responsibilities and general obligations.

While penalties are huge, the additional costs, such as legal bills and consequential loss or damage in these cases, often exceed the original penalty, Cecil warns.

"These are the costs that people often don’t think about.

"There are legal costs to cover if you are prosected and need legal assistance to defend you, and win, lose or draw you have to pay the prosecution’s costs, which is bit different if you sue someone in a city court.

"That is a cost you don’t see in the legislation but which you feel in your pocket."

The third panellist, Wood, offered practical advice on what steps to take when setting up a COR system within a workplace to effectively manage risks and obligations.

Through his presentation, Wood urged industry members to ask the question ‘is my business ready to deal with the upcoming changes to COR laws?’

One of the points raised throughout the forum was for all members in a supply chain to know their risks and obligations, and, where necessary, provide proper training to staff and subcontractors.

Wood reminded industry members that simply having a document listing policies and procedures at the workplace or by gaining a training certificate will not serve as defence in case of an inquiry or trial.

The chain of responsibility laws have been amended to align them more closely with workplace health and safety laws.

The changes are due to come in effect in mid-2018.

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