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In July 2018, an amendment to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) will come into force to ensure that every party in the heavy vehicle transport supply chain has a duty to ensure the safety of their transport activities. The changes will align the HVNL with current WHS legislation. This means that all parties in the chain have a primary duty to eliminate or minimise risk by doing all that is reasonably practicable to ensure safety in activities associated with heavy vehicle transport.

The regulations relating to NHVL still enforce requirements for managing the risks associated with mass management, load restraint, dimensions, fatigue, speed, and vehicle standards.  However, the changes require organisations to be able to demonstrate they have discharged their duty in identifying, assessing and managing the risks associated with the heavy vehicle transport related to their business.

Heavy vehicle operators, for the most part, have become well versed in the requirements of the legislation.  We have regularly found that it is the others in the chain that are potentially exposed. The reality for most organisations is that transport operations are outsourced.  Many organisations that outsource their logistics function assume that compliance with the HVNL is not their responsibility.

Your role in the supply chain

consignor to cosignee chain

The HVNL extends obligations for safe transport of goods to consignors and consignees, not just the truck driver / operator. So let’s identify if you are a consignor / consignee…

You are a consignor if:

  1. You have agreed to and been named as a consignor in the documentation for the road transport of the goods
  2. You request an operator of the heavy transport vehicle (directly, indirectly or through their representative) to transport the goods by road
  3. You load a vehicle with the goods (and the goods are in your possession or control) immediately before the operator transports them
  4. You or your transport provider load a heavy vehicle with the goods for road transport at an unattended storage/collection location.
  5. The goods are imported into Australia and you are the importer

You are a consignee if:

  1. You have agreed to and been named as a consignee in the documentation for the road transport of the goods; OR
  2. You receive the goods after road transport (but not merely the unloader)

CoR obligations can be breached in many ways. A consignee will have a more significant role to play if they are packing the goods and loading the vehicle. Requirements for mass management and load restraint need to be considered.

An example that could apply to a consignor or a consignee may be the planning of a delivery with unrealistic timeframes that may require or influence a driver to breach fatigue management requirements, or speed limits.

Driver fitness for duty will also be an area requiring consignors and consignees to act where they identify potential issues, or risk being caught as not being proactive to prevent harm.

Striving for compliance

As a party in the supply chain, the best way to achieve compliance is to embed CoR into your safety management systems. This will include training, procedures and review processes that:

  • identify, assess, evaluate, and control transport 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.

To this extent a transport related incident should be treated just like a safety incident or near miss. To demonstrate your diligence in this regard, follow the same logic applied to your obligations as officer’s under WHS legislation. Ask yourself these six questions:

  • Do I know my obligations?
  • Do I understand the risks?
  • Have I provided adequate resources?
  • Do I respond to incidents and hazards in a timely manner?
  • Do I enforce these requirements when breaches occur?
  • Can I provide evidence?