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Industry obligations to health and safety will always be a necessary focus.

Amidst a raft of industry regulatory changes, such as the recently introduced COVID-19–specific Freight Movement Code and Freight Movement Protocol, it can be difficult to stay on top of changing rules and requirements.

But no matter what situation or challenges are presented, Chain of Responsibility (CoR) should always be top of mind. After all, what’s more important than our health and safety?

CoR legislation outlines who is responsible for decisions at any given stage of the transport operation. This includes everyone involved in the chain: drivers, schedulers, pickers, packers, executive managers.

For operators, managers and schedulers, complying with CoR is a top priority in day-to-day working life. But what are the key things to take note of? Let’s take a look.

Down to CoR

Before we get into the details… first things first.

It’s important to understand that, at its heart, CoR is aimed at ensuring a safe working environment for everyone in the transport supply chain, by improving and promoting good practices and procedures.

It’s also a legal obligation that holds all workers in the chain responsible (and liable) for ensuring breaches of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) don’t occur. This approach recognises that the actions, inactions and demands of both on-road and off-the-road parties have a big impact on overall safety standards.

Introduced with the amendments of 2018, the current CoR laws see primary duty of care applied to each party, meaning everyone at every step has a legal obligation to eliminate or minimise potential risks by taking reasonable measures to ensure safety.

Unsure of whether CoR applies to you? The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) puts it very simply for us:

Influence = Responsibility = Legal liability

You can read more about the ins and outs of the laws in our CoR: Back to Basics article.

What’s your role?

Working as an operator, manager or scheduler in a business involved in road transport can be a demanding, challenging job on any given day, and even more so when dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic. And in the course of a busy work day, you may find yourself performing more than one role to get things moving.

To quickly identify which role (or roles) you play in the transport operation, check out this CoR checklist from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

Operator, manager, scheduler… There are varying levels of influence each of these roles may have, and in some cases, the level of influence you have or potentially have on others is not immediately obvious and can be easily underestimated.

Knowing what role(s) you perform each day will help you better understand the CoR obligations you need to look out for.

A little R & R: roles and responsibilities

In CoR, operators, managers and schedulers have different key responsibilities—but all are held legally liable for breaches of the HVNL.

For more information on key responsibilities, see the following list:

But generally speaking (according to the NHVR), as an operator, manager or scheduler your responsibilities would include, but are not limited to:

  • Driver rosters and schedules
  • Keeping records of driver activities—including work and rest times
  • Vehicle maintenance—including the correct function of speed limiters
  • Ensuring vehicle loading limits are not exceeded in mass or dimension
  • Ensuring vehicle loads are restrained appropriately
  • Checking that drivers have a valid Container Weight Declaration

Fatigue management and COVID-19 freight movement

In addition to these responsibilities, if your role includes working with fatigue-regulated compliance in operating heavy vehicles, you’re required to comply with strictly outlined HVNL driver fatigue laws and make sure that drivers are aware and following the laws, too.

This can include respecting the more complex—but very beneficial—rules of Basic Fatigue Management and Advanced Fatigue Management. For more detailed information on fatigue management, visit the NHVR website.

And considering the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, let’s not forget the Freight Movement Code and Freight Movement Protocol, introduced in August 2020.

CoR in reflection

Legally, it’s not mandatory to undertake a CoR course.

But if you are in an operator, manager or scheduler role, investing in CoR training and a Safety Management System can help you take reasonable measures to fulfil your CoR responsibilities.

Also, keep an eye out for HVNL updates, which either have come into effect since the major changes in 2018, or are scheduled to come into effect later.

Looking for more information about CoR and your responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic? Check out our Chain of Responsibility and COVID-19 article.