Core Focus: Chain Of Responsibility And COVID-19
Behind the scenes and round the clock—transport, freight, and logistics are some of the critical industries keeping the nation moving during COVID-19.
With our truckies and operators working day and night to keep Australia well supplied and serviced—even as restrictions start to ease—it’s crucial to make sure health and safety remains a top priority. And in conjunction with those social restrictions and border regulations still ongoing, this also means staying abreast of the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) requirements.
If you’re a driver, picker, packer, business owner, ops manager, or indeed anyone currently working in an essential transport role, you probably have questions about whether the usual CoR obligations are relevant during the COVID-19 crisis.
The answer is ‘yes’
Simply put, even while there’s a pandemic going on, the CoR regulations still apply, and this includes your usual CoR responsibilities. The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is maintaining full service levels, meaning Safety and Compliance Officers are out and about conducting their normal roadside checks and activities.
Do I still need to document?
With COVID-19 keeping many Aussies at home ordering food and shopping online, demand for road freight and last-mile delivery is increasing, putting more pressure on everyone working in transport, especially truck drivers.
During this hectic time, managing driver fatigue levels is a critical safety step, and under CoR law, responsibility for this does not fall solely on the driver. Accurately logging driver work and rest hours, and allowing a reasonable transport timeframe to complete deliveries can go a long way to ensuring on-road safety.
The NHVR has taken some measures to try and ease the regulatory burden on both drivers and operators.
Supplementary Work Diary Records
If you’ve been struggling to purchase a new work diary due to outlet closures, you’re definitely not alone. The NHVR has extended the amount of time that a supplementary work diary can be used, now up to 30 days.
A supplementary record can be in any format, but the NHVR suggests using copies of their Diary Daily Sheet (download here).
Note though that drivers are still required to notify the NHVR within two days of your regular written work dairy being completed, lost, stolen or destroyed.
Curfew restrictions lifted
As part of the national response to COVID-19 the NHVR has waived restrictions on all curfew permits–except those related to safety and access–until June 19.
This means the usual amenity-related restrictions will not apply to any freight or grocery deliveries around distribution centres and supermarkets, making it easier for drivers to park, rest and use any required amenities.
One… or two?
Everyone is (hopefully) aware of the well-publicised community social distancing measures, but you might be left wondering whether carrying a passenger is allowed in the current COVID climate.
Some states have advised truck drivers not to carry passengers who aren’t involved in the freight task, so it’s best to check with your own state’s transport guidelines.
But if you are part of a two-up driving team then the answer is yes, you can—as long as you practise social distancing and hygiene precautions wherever possible. If you’re doing any interstate travel in a two-up team (or even driving solo), it’s worth checking the border restrictions and requirements for each state and territory.
Keep on truckin’
While we owe a huge debt to those facing the front line, we will also never forget the hard work being made by our truckies and all those working along the supply chain, keeping our trucks on the road. And part of making sure you stay safe out there is keeping you up to date on information about road safety, regulations and restrictions.
For more information about COVID-19 and relevant transport issues visit the NHVR novel coronavirus response webpage.
For more information about current Chain of Responsibility obligations check out the CoR webpage.
And for a handy all-in-one-go bucket of practical resources, check out our Safe Practices and Resources for Truckies blog.