If you are a manager of a business which is a link in the Chain of Responsibility (CoR), no doubt you are already thinking about how to prepare for the changes to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) coming in mid-2018 – including the substantial increase in maximum penalties to $3 million for corporations and $300,000 plus up to five years’ imprisonment for individuals.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to CoR compliance, and the new laws are designed to ensure businesses craft their CoR policies and practices in ways that will manage the specific risks arising from their transport activities. However, over the coming months there are some general steps you can take which will help your business spruce up its CoR suite. This task can seem overwhelming, but it can easily be broken up into manageable components which can be completed over time.

June – August 2017

Assess operations within your heavy vehicle supply chain which could give rise to breach

Now is a good time to be conducting a review of all the transport activities (according to the new definition) which your business undertakes, and determining whether you have policies and procedures in place which fulfil the primary duty of care under the new HVNL. Identify the risks presented by your transport operations and how they are eliminated, substituted or reduced. If your transport operations or supply chain are complex, it is prudent to seek legal advice which is specific to your business.

Consult with heavy vehicle supply chain partners as to their compliance assurance

Who do you deal with in the chain? Ask them to provide evidence of their CoR compliance, including policies, procedures and auditing processes – designed to meet the new HVNL. You cannot contract out of your CoR duties, but you should identify areas where a supply chain partner is better equipped to manage a certain risk and work with that party to ensure that risk is managed.

Prepare CoR compliance policy and working procedures

Plug any identified gaps in your existing documentation. A CoR policy should comprehensively cover areas of responsibility, risk identification and risk management for each transport activity (i.e. consignor, consignee, loader; mass, dimension, load restraint etc).

September – November 2017

Develop a monitoring and compliance assurance system

A paper CoR policy is no good to anyone without a system which ensures it is being followed and that it is successfully preventing breaches of the HVNL. Procedures should be audited regularly so that any issues can be escalated and response/remedy measures put in place to prevent future incidents.

Amend contractual engagement terms for suppliers, subcontractors and customers

Following on from your consultation with supply chain partners, now is the time to roll out any contractual amendments necessary to exert your influence on CoR compliance within the Chain. You should accompany these changes with information on your expectations that suppliers, contractors and customers have their own demonstrated CoR measures in place.

Train Executive and senior managers on implementation of CoR compliance policy

Executive and senior manager buy-in is crucial to an organisational culture of CoR compliance. In order to meet their due diligence obligations, Executives must understand their business’ risks and verify that these are being effectively managed with sufficient resources.

December 2017 – February 2018

Roll out line operator level training and awareness programme

Identify the people who will be at the coal-face of compliance and ensure they receive comprehensive training. All training should be documented for verification and in case it is later required as evidence.

Implement the new system

The New Year is a good time to implement a new system, which can be presented as a fresh start for safety management. Early implementation will ensure that you can obtain and act on feedback from your employees, suppliers and customers before the new HVNL comes into force.

March – May 2018

Conduct a test run and work with others to solve any problems

Verification is key to compliance with the new HVNL. Your test run should identify any problems and give you enough time to iron out any kinks in the system.

Mid-2018 and beyond

There is no ‘finish line’ to CoR compliance. Keep in mind that the above are only some of the steps your business should be taking towards a comprehensive CoR system. However, after the initial flurry of activity, compliance should be a relatively simple matter of conducting regular audits and acting on risks and incidents identified and reported through the system.

*This article was originally published in Australasian Transport News magazine, a publication of Bauer Media.