New laws will be implemented in October 2018 as part of an update to the Australian Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL). The changes increase the emphasis on organisational responsibility for the health and safety of both staff and the public.
One of the key updates is strengthening of Chain of Responsibility (CoR) obligations, a concept that has been a focus within Australia and New Zealand for some time. Any party in the chain who has influence over the transport activity is responsible for safety on the road. This ultimately places legal obligations across the organisation to ensure health and safety compliance.
The ongoing drive is to reduce workplace risk, and recognise this responsibility extends to parties on and off the road. Many organisations are already working to reduce workplace risk by ensuring they meet a Duty of Care - a similar legal concept to the CoR.
Complying with these new CoR laws is also important from a financial perspective: organisations are potentially liable for fines, penalties and possible imprisonment for breaches.
Complying with new CoR laws
As daunting as the laws may seem, there are some simple steps that can help organisations comply with these laws.
NOTE: this article shouldn't be considered legal advice
- Implementing an In-Vehicle Monitoring System (IVMS)
Speeding and work hours (fatigue) are two key priorities the CoR laws address. An IVMS solution provides organisations with the tools to begin to address these issues through improved visibility of operational hours and distances travelled by vehicle and drivers.
- Auditing and reporting on data
The data created from the introduction of an IVMS solution also enable the auditing and reporting of this data. By leveraging this data, feedback on driver behaviour (including speeding) can be better managed. Using the information highlighted through an IVMS solution, organisations can better manage driver hours to identify and educate high-risk and speeding drivers. Studies have shown that the implementation of an IVMS can reduce incidents of speeding within fleets by up to 97%.
- Improving fleet maintenance and ensure legal loading
A key to reducing driver risk within fleets is to ensure vehicles that are going out on the road are roadworthy and compliant. This encompasses ensuring the fleet has regular servicing, checks for maintenance issues that are logged, tracked and actioned; and checking the load and dimensions of the vehicles in order to meet compliance requirements. Tools such as pre-start checks, electronic incident reporting, and electronic work diaries can help with the logging, tracking and administration of these issues, ensuring a system is in place to manage compliance.
- Identifying external risks
Ensuring drivers and vehicles are operating in safe environments is key to ensuring the safety of your fleet. Integrating hazardous natural events, such as bushfires, into your IVMS solution can help identify areas of risk and enable redirection of drivers around at-risk locations. Managers can be notified immediately when workers have entered high-danger zones (via geofence alerts), allowing them to contact the staff member and give them a safe way out of danger zones.
Taking all reasonable steps
Many organisations are already on the right path to improving their CoR compliance. The important thing is for them to consider all reasonable avenues of improvement and, where relevant, act to minimise the organisation's risk and management.
Through improved compliance, organisations are better positioned to provide a safe environment for their staff and the public; not only meeting their legislative obligations but also being a good employer and corporate citizen.
Visibility of fleet actions is greatly improved by improved tracking of maintenance, faults, driving, loading and hours, which enables organisations to delve into these data points and further improve their efficiencies.
Smartrak has the tools that can help organisations improve CoR compliance and reduce their workplace risk. Find out more about how you can improve your compliance today.