Rattling the chain

Chain of responsibility issues continue to dog the transport industry. As a review of the COR rules, their enforcement and their remit is being undertaken by the National Transport Commission is taking place, the trucking industry has to cope with the current regime, warts and all.

Speaking at this week’s ATA/ARTSA TMC in Melbourne, Bernie Belacic, WHS Manager at Pickering Transport, expressed the frustrations of many in the transport game with the current situation pertaining to COR.


“An awful lot of nothing,” says Bernie Belacic.
“An awful lot of nothing,” says Bernie Belacic.


“Complying with the law comes without saying these days. We want a good strong enforcement regime, good strong laws to create a level playing field and a safe industry,” said Belacic. “At Pickering, by no means are we perfect as a transport company, but we do our best, as many others also do. In terms of chain of responsibility, for most of us, the elephant in the room is no matter how good we think we are, if we dig and keep digging we will eventually find something not right. To be brutally honest, the reality is when someone comes into our transport company and digs for long enough,inevitably they will find something.

“With the chain of responsibility, I am perplexed by its name. From our point of view, the COR starts with the transport company and finishes with the transport company driver. Very rarely do we witness or feel that COR has moved much beyond that. I realise COR talks about a whole load of other parties. But when we go and talk to the receivers and consignors, who are our customers, they enlighten us to their perspective, some are more committed than others.


“COR is certainly a success at prosecuting transport companies and drivers. In going beyond that, it is very early days. It has done an extremely good job in creating paper trails. We have got lots of paperwork, but I would ask what does a lot of it achieve? An awful lot of nothing. We get requests daily from customers asking us for all kinds of information. We supply reams and reams of paperwork and no-one reads it. There is no context to it, we provide the information and have no idea what the context is. We are responding to hypothetical situations.”


Belacic also brought up a worrying trend whereby freight customers are introducing contracts which could be construed as having a negative effect, in terms of COR.


“We now have customers producing contracts which have fines built into them,” said Belacic. “They are proposing fining us for being 15 minutes late, for failing to manage our fatigue in their eyes.


The event was an opportunity to reveal the frustrations of the industry with the current climate, as in the room and also speaking in the same debate was Marcus Burke, Project Director, Heavy Vehicle Compliance and Technology at the National Transport Commission, the man leading the project to review the Chain of Responsibility.