The ultimate Chain of Responsibility fact sheet for 2018

Tess Lynch, 5 min read

What's changing in Chain of Responsibility laws?

  1. Everyone within the supply chain is legally liable if something goes wrong
  2. It is required to take a proactive approach to risk management
  3. Its purpose is to improve safety, by sharing the responsibility of safety, and to take pressure off drivers
  4. Records and documentation of safety management systems are required
  5. Penalties apply for non-compliance

Changes to Chain of Responsibility legislation have been in the works for quite some time, but despite this, finding information can prove challenging.

Chain of Responsibility has an impact on every industry within the supply chain, so it can't be ignored. From transportation, to maintenance, to construction, to management, it can affect you and your business.

So, here’s your ultimate Chain of Responsibility fact sheet for 2018 – answering all your questions on what you need to know, what’s changing, why it should matter to you and what you need to do about it.

Hope you enjoy!

What is Chain of Responsibility (CoR)?

Chain of Responsibility law ensures that everyone on and off the road that is involved in the supply chain is equally responsible for complying to Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).

So now, if you have bulging curtains, it’s not just the driver who can be held responsible, everyone’s accountable for ensuring safe practices are practiced. For any breach in HVNL, anyone in the chain could be held legally liable.

What’s the point of CoR?

CoR shares the responsibility for ensuring breaches in HVNL do not occur amongst everyone in the supply chain. The aim of this is to decrease, if not eliminate, the occurrence of breeches and take some pressure off drivers. If everyone is required to look out for safety issues, it’s less likely one will be missed and lead to an accident.

Who is involved in the supply chain?

  • The driver’s employer
  • If the driver is self-employed, prime contractor for the vehicle
  • Vehicle operator
  • Scheduler for the vehicle
  • Loading manger
  • Loader and unloader of goods
  • Packer of the goods in the vehicle
  • Consignor and consignee of the goods in the vehicle

What’s changing in CoR legislation?

Changes to CoR mainly concern risk management. Similar to WHS laws, CoR laws now require parties in the chain to actively identify, assess and control hazards and transportation risks, and specifically notes that each person in the chain has a duty to ensure safe transport operation practices.

The noteworthy part of this change is that now parties must ensure safety “so far as is reasonably practicable”.

With this, it is required that you:

  • Eliminate/minimise public risk – these are safety risks or risk of damage to infrastructure
  • Ensure that no-one, either directly or indirectly, encourages drivers to contravene HVNL – this could be demanding that a good be delivered faster than is possible, hence indirectly encouraging a driver to speed or cut corners loading goods meaning that they are not safely restrained.

When do these changes come into effect?

1st October 2018 (the implementation date was pushed back, but that's coming up soon!).

What are the penalties for not complying to CoR?

There are three categories of penalties:

  1. Behaviour: recklessly exposing someone to a risk of death of serious injury/illness without a reasonable excusePenalty: $3 million for a corporation, $300k/5 years jail time for an individual
  2. Behaviour: Exposing someone or multiple people to a risk of death or serious illness/injuryPenalty: $1.5million for a corporation, $150k for an individual
  3. Behaviour: person contravenes the primary dutyPenalty: $500k for a corporation, $50k for an individual

What do YOU need to do?

In previous Chain of Responsibility law, action was only taken when something went wrong, but these changes make CoR requirements align more closely with WHS laws.

Now everyone in the chain has to proactively identify hazards and work to remove or, if it’s not possible to completely eliminate, minimise risks.

In being proactive, there are a few things that you should to do:

Learn how to manage safety risks “so far as is reasonably practicable"

For this, there’s a four step process that could help:

  1. Identify the risks – what could go wrong?
  2. Assess the risks – how likely it is for that to happen, and what's the degree of harm that will occur if it does happen?
  3. Control the risks – put in places practices and control measures to avoid the risk
  4. Monitor and review – regularly check your control measures to make sure that they are actually working and whether there are any new riskssafety-management-system

Learn to work with other parties in the chain

This requires 3 important C's: Consultation, Cooperation and Coordination. Start and maintain a line of communication with everyone in the chain and discuss the key responsibilities of each person in the chain, the hazards involved in each party’s activities, the precautions taken to avoid these hazards and any information that may be needed to ensure the driver is not encouraged to breech HVNL. Maintaining this line of communication and keeping a level of transparency with all the parties you’re working with, will help in ensuring you are complying.

Develop a safety management system (SMS)

A Safety Management System (SMS) sets out a safety process for everyone to follow. It ensures that you are complying with legislation, and that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and knows what to do in a risky situations.

Here are a couple things you can think about if you’re looking to create an SMS:

  • Communicate and consult with your workers so that you understand their perspective on safety, and so that they are able to raise concerns, report problems and suggest solutions to safety issues.
  • Effective safety training is essential for the induction of new employees, practicing procedures and understanding your responsibility in a practical sense.
  • Record keeping is required under HVNL of all risk management practices, this is not only proof of compliance but is important in reviewing your system
  • Regularly review your system to ensure that is effective and to identify any areas of improvement

The number one thing to take away from this is that, for CoR, you are now required to actively manage safety.

You now must to show that you have identified any potential risks, taken steps to eliminate or avoid these risks, and put in place a safety process to use in the event that an accident does occur.

If you don’t, no matter whether or not you were directly involved in an incident, you are legally liable.

Looking for more information on Chain of Responsibility? We spoke with Ros Burke, a Safety Consultant at Robyn Perkins Consultants, who are industry leaders in People Risk, and have over 75 years of experience in working with, and consulting to, some of Australia’s largest employers in both the private and the public sectors. Check out the Ask an Expert article here!

Tess Lynch

Tess Lynch

Tess is a design savant, fashion leader and a pretty darn good writer. Whether it’s creating digital designs, blogging about learning science or rocking a neck-scarf, Tess can pull it off.

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