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Opinion: Measuring up in a new reality

It’s time to look into mass management controls available to road transport organisations as part of their safety regimes


Chain of responsibility (COR) legislative changes that will soon be coming into effect mean that any existing obligations will be reformulated as primary duties and that any business and individual who is involved in the road transport supply chain will now have a primary duty of care to ensure the safety of road transport operations, including operations outside of their direct control, within their supply chain.

All parties will now be required to undertake a broader and more targeted risk assessment benchmarked against new industry codes of practice (ICPs) and develop and implement tailored mitigating and remedial measures to discharge their primary duty of care.

The Queensland Parliament is currently considering laws to give authorised officer greater powers to investigate breaches of the Heavy Vehicle National Law. Check out our story here

Compliance with an ICP will require significant evidence of safety regimes and targeted risk management procedures and programs.

In practical terms, this primary duty represents an obligation to eliminate or minimise potential harm or loss (risk) by doing all that is reasonably practicable to ensure safety.

Drivers, loaders, packers, weighbridge staff, consignors, managers, and senior executives are responsible for overloading heavy goods vehicles if they influence the mass of the vehicle or its load. Therefore, everyone in the supply chain must ensure that systems are in place, such as weighing systems, to address heavy vehicle safety.

The NHVR’s recent update states: “The guidelines will be exacting, robust and demanding for registration, to assure the Regulator and all road-users that regulatory compliance and safety risks are being appropriately addressed.”

Once the laws, are in place, breaches could result in:

  • Fines of up to $300,000 for individuals and five year’s imprisonment for individuals
  • Up to $3 million in fines for companies with responsibility falling on company directors.

If you fail to meet your obligations as an executive under COR, you will be liable, and this cannot be delegated to another employee either.

Regulatory authorities around the country are now implementing a raft of measures that will enable them to enforce the new laws.

For example, VicRoads is installing new weight sensor systems in main roads to enable COR crackdowns.

For years, authorities have recognised that trying to identify an overloaded vehicle was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

With the number of heavy goods vehicles on Australian roads, it was challenging for on road compliance officers to identify which vehicle to ‘pull over’ to inspect.

Now, regulatory authorities around the country are rolling out advanced weigh-in-motion (WIM) sensors in main roads, combined with automatic numberplate recognition systems, that will enable compliance officers to detect far more overloaded or incorrectly loaded vehicles than ever before.

The new systems will ensure that inspection processes are now well targeted, whereby an overloaded heavy goods vehicle (HGV) passing over the weight sensor will trigger an inspection of that vehicle by compliance officers.

Now that it’s nearing COR crunch time, the levels of enquiry our companies are receiving has soared.

Organisations are reviewing their safety management systems and mass management processes and are rushing to implement controls to prevent breaches of COR provisions before time runs out and the new laws take effect.

Today, there is really no reason why any owner operator or organisation should leave the safe and legal loading of their vehicles to guesswork considering the range of static and dynamic vehicle weighing systems that are available to industry, which include weighbridges, axle weighers, weigh-in-motion and onboard weighing systems.

These essential aids to load and axle load distribution monitoring provide drivers the knowledge they need and security they deserve and keeps operations compliant with NHVR COR requirements.

Furthermore, there have been key peripheral technological developments within our industry that can add exciting new dimensions to any road transport operation beyond that of meeting compliance requirements.

Modern vehicle weighing systems do much more than provide an isolated reading of weight data; rather, weight data can be integrated in real time into operational processes and can be used to improve the efficiency, productivity, quality and safety of any road transport operation.

Innovations such as data transfer, the ability to track productivity and performance online, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems and remote displays and ticketing systems have all changed the face of vehicle weighing, with WIM technology really coming to the fore as a viable option.

The fact is that organisations can also leverage these measurement technologies at these control points to not only realise their safety and compliance goals, but also to attain a whole host of commercial benefits that include maximising payloads, streamlining operations and increasing throughputs, increasing order accuracy and recovering revenues due to you.

Brenton Cunningham is CEO of DiverseCo group of companies that includes AccuWeigh, AccuOnboard and Ultrahawke and has more than 35 years’ experience within the industrial weighing and automation industry.


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