A review, by the National Transport Commission, of the current chain of responsibility regulations has reached the stage where the NTC is calling for the transport industry to respond to a number of options for change to the COR rules. The introduction of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) was seen as the right time to get the COR rules tightened up and better aligned to the way the national WHS regime is regulated.
The options paper is available for perusal at the NTC website and on the same page can be found the downloadable response form for those wishing to send in their feedback. The window of opportunity is relatively small, as all comments have to be in to the NTC by March 14.
The options under discussion are varied but many are aimed at getting a clearer definition of the duties of the different parts of the supply chain. One option seems to be making the ‘reasonable steps’ defence a little easier to understand and putting the onus on the prosecution to prove reasonable steps were not taken to ensure a safe and legal freight movement.
There is one proposal which should get widespread support from trucking companies. It reads, ‘There is a need to target ALL entities that exert influence over business practices to the extent that it may cause a breach of the HVNL’. This single proposal sums up the trucking industry’s frustration with COR.
Another proposal lists some of the parties in need of targeting through the new rules, ‘inventory managers, time slotters, retail managers, load owners and freight customers’. This sort of language will be music to the truckie’s ears but the options paper will need plenty of feedback from trucking operations, highlighting these passages, to counter the kind of feedback the proposals will engender from further up the food chain.
This is the kind of change the trucking industry has been looking for right from the start of chain responsibility regulation. COR has promised much but, in the main, only delivered errant trucking operators. The right feedback at the right time, i.e. now, may be the catalyst to get some real change in the way the COR rules are applied.