Chain of Responsibility changes are almost here!

Public news

On 1 October 2018 there will be significant changes being made to the National Heavy Vehicle Law that could have serious implications for your business, your employee’s and your individual liability. These laws will apply to all heavy vehicles which are defined in section 6 of the Act as being:

  • A vehicle that has a gross vehicle mass or an aggregate trailer mass of more than 4.5 tons
  • Also includes a vehicle with a combination of gross vehicle mass and aggregate trailer mass of more than 4.5 tons

The National Heavy Vehicle Law does not include rolling stock vehicles, that being vehicles designed to operate or move on a railway track.

These changes mean that there will be a shift away from the former focus on driver/operator liability to a focus on the obligations of all persons who are involved in the use of heavy vehicles. This liability will be imposed on what is known as the Chain of Responsibility (CoR).

The CoR places legal obligations on parties in the transport supply chain and more generally across industry. Those who could be included in this CoR include but aren’t limited to:

  • A driver
  • The employee of the driver
  • A loader of a vehicle and,
  • A scheduler of a vehicle

To be liable there needs to be a transport activity being undertaken. This has been given a broad definition and will include:

  • receiving goods unloaded from a vehicle
  • packing goods into a vehicle
  • contracting someone to drive a vehicle
  • directing someone to drive a vehicle
  • repairing a vehicle
  • leasing a vehicle or,
  • selling a vehicle.

This means for example where a driver enters your workshop to deliver a package and the driver is visibly incapacitated (such as being drunk or under the influence of drugs) and later has an accident; you could potentially be liable for failing to take reasonable steps (detaining or reporting the driver) to discharge your responsibility despite having no direct role in driving the vehicle.

The new primary duty will apply to those employees in managerial positions. A person who is a director, a partner or a manager will now have a positive “due diligence obligation”, meaning that they may be liable for the actions of those who are under their control if they fail to take reasonable steps (training, managing, implementing proper policies) to discharge this duty.

The duties will also go further than before with there being no requirement for an accident or road offence to be committed. It will be a breach of the National Heavy Vehicle Law if adequate policies and procedures aren’t in place. It is important that your business has in place practices and procedures to ensure the safe operation of its transport activities.

To assist Members, there will be a CoR training course being conducted by the MTA on 12 September 2018 and 24 October 2018 at the MTA, Level 1/81 Greenhill Road. This course can also be conducted onsite with a maximum of 20 people per training session. Click here to contact the MTA’s WR team.

Additionally the MTA has constructed a National Heavy Vehicle Law CoR package that will equip all members with the tools necessary for ensuring compliance. Click here to enquire about our packages.

Should you require any other assistance with anything associated with please contact the MTA on 8291 2000 or email the Workplace Relations team by clicking here.