So the brave new world of chain of responsibility is with us from the start of this month, it’s finding the pinch points and it’s really starting to bite. No? Well, no surprise there. We have waited around a long time for the CoR laws to find their true target and we can wait a bit longer, as long as they get it right in the end.
An article in ‘The Land’ has caught my eye this week. Apparently, a bunch of local councils in rural New South Wales are getting hot under their collars over the actions of the Roads and Maritime Services. Nothing new there, truckies get hot under the collar, but have to bite their lip every day, when dealing with the RMS.
The issue is a simple one, and the RMS, true to form have gone in with both feet and caused a bit of a ruckus. The issue is having weigh-bridges for trucks to use to ascertain their mass when they leave the saleyards full of livestock.
The local councils often own the saleyards as a facility for stock agents and the farming industry to do their trading. The local councils in Dubbo and Forbes have been served with improvement notices by the RMS to make them fit weigh-bridges at the saleyards they own.
According to the RMS, the saleyards should have a weigh-bridge to allow truck drivers to weigh their load an make sure they are not breaking the mass limits when they hit the road. This problem is more of an issue in NSW because the state’s livestock loading scheme is much more complicated than the simpler volume loading rules for livestock in other states.
The Dubbo and Forbes councils are up in arms because they are being forced to build weigh-bridges at a cost they estimate to be $2 million a pop. They have an obligation because they are defined as loading managers because they are the owner of the facility. Those running the sales are not regarded in the same light.
This issue is going to cause plenty of political heat around the subject, this is National Party heartland and the farmers are already under the cosh with the drought. No-one wants to be seen to be pouring further woe on the farmers, when saleyards put up fees to pay for the new weigh-bridges.
CoR is having an effect here and the responsibility is being worn by someone other than the trucking operator, this is a plus. However, this is because the whole issue sits in a legislative grey area with the issues of who owns what and at what point, but there is probably a compromise to be had.
The principle of moving responsibility up and down the chain certainly works in this particular case. The truckie may be overloaded, but it may not necessarily be under their control and they have no opportunity to check axle masses.
Applying these principles elsewhere in road transport may be a much harder to make stick. There is going to be much less murky greyness around the legal status of players in the supermarket DC space. In many cases it will be those with the most expensive lawyers to write the contracts and procedures. who will come out cleanest.
Might I suggest the councils of rural NSW take a look at the NTI website and its new CoR Health Check, which will give you an assessment of your CoR risk levels.