What’s a Chain of Responsibility Policy & why you need one

chain of responsibility policy corcomply

Have you been asked for a Chain of Responsibility (CoR) Policy?  It is a common request when seeking to confirm that a transport business is compliant with Chain of Responsibility obligations, but what is a CoR Policy and why do you need one? Transport Operators need a Chain of Responsibility Policy because it demonstrates to supply chain partners, customers and regulators that you’re proactive and take the safety of your road transport activities seriously.

Just like a Work Health and Safety Policy, a CoR Policy will consist of an overarching statement of intent to comply with CoR laws and commitment to minimising risks arising from your transport operations, as far as reasonably practicable. The objective being to prevent harm to people and infrastructure.

Next comes what actions you will take to achieve this. The Heavy Vehicle National Law requires transport operators to identify and control risks with transport operations, including not influencing a driver to speed, carry an overweight or over-dimensional load, travel in an unroadworthy/unsafe vehicle or drive while fatigued. So these would typically be mentioned in your policy. Other actions may be to encourage reporting of CoR breaches and engage with supply chain partners to work collectively to manage transport risks and improve safety for all.

Everything you say in your Policy should be part of your everyday business operations. For each of your actions, you will need processes and records. For example, if you state in your Policy that drivers will be licenced, competent and fit for work – how will you demonstrate this? This could include:

  • Sourcing driver history reports issued by the Regulator to monitor licence and demerit point status.
  • Having a drug and alcohol policy and testing program
  • A daily fitness for work declaration for drivers
  • Training for drivers and operations in recognising and responding to fitness for work issues

To monitor compliance with your Chain of Responsibility Policy, you will be gathering and reviewing data which will help guide your decisions. If, through monitoring fatigue, you become aware of fatigue management breaches in relation to a particular route, client or driver, you can use this information to make changes.

If you don’t have a Chain of Responsibility Policy, think about all the actions you have in place to manage transport risks and compliance and document these and there’s your Policy. Alternatively, you can start with a Policy template and this can structure your compliance program. Either way, next time you are asked if you have a Chain of Responsibility Compliance Policy, you will be able to confidently answer, Yes, I do.

Take the time and effort out of CoR compliance documentation with CoR Comply and know you have exactly what you need with CoR Comply. Our CoR Policy is part of the Governance Package.


CoR Compliance and Safety Management Systems

cor compliance and safety management systems

CoR Compliance and Safety Management Systems; A brief history

Around 2 years ago, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) began advising the heavy vehicle transport industry that changes to Chain of Responsibility were coming. The Heavy Vehicle National Law was to be reformed to include positive safety duties and be more closely aligned to Work Health and Safety Laws. The changes were to share responsibility for heavy vehicle safety to all parties in the supply chain who could influence the safety of the vehicle, the load and the driver.

Originally, this was scheduled to happen from 1 July 2018, but it was pushed back to 1 October 2018. One year before the changes were proposed, from mid-2017, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator began promoting the change through their website, newsletter and information sessions in each State. They produced a number of videos, booklets and flyers to educate stakeholders about the changes and how to prepare.

The focus of the NHVR at this point was around Safety Management Systems. Their solution to improving heavy vehicle safety was for transport businesses to implement a safety management system. This would involve systematic identification and control of risk and having documentation – policies and procedures describing how the system worked.

Do Safety Management System’s Stop Accidents?

Safety Management Systems originate from the world of Occupational Health and Safety. They were seen as the answer to improving worker safety from the mid-1990’s when WorkSafe introduced a Safety Management System framework called ‘Safety MAP’ (Safety Management Achievement Program). SafetyMAP provided a framework to create a system for managing safety, from policy and planning, allocating resources, training, identifying and managing safety hazards, incident reporting and overall management reporting and review. From this, the Australian Standard for Safety Management Systems (AS4801:2001) was developed – 18 years ago. A famous case of failure of the Safety Management System was in 1998 when the Esso Longford gas plant exploded, killing 2 workers, injuring 8 and leaving Melbourne without gas supplies for 2 weeks.

The safety profession has since moved on from Safety Management Systems, as history showed us, that they can end up being books gathering dust on the shelf and not the way the business manages safety at all. So why would the NHVR espouse that a Safety Management System was the best way to comply with the new laws?

We still don’t know. But we do know, the reforms were introduced in October 2018 and by December 2018 a full review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law was announced. That says to us, this law is not achieving the right outcome.

Safety Management Systems and CoR Compliance

We work in transport businesses and only the large ones have specialist compliance people. To create and implement a Safety Management System requires technical safety expertise and people who are good at writing procedures. Then it needs everyone trained and on board for the implementation and ongoing use, measurement and success of the system. We don’t know any small to medium transport businesses who have that luxury.

We’ve also worked with business when investigated for multiple fatality road accidents, when the Heavy Vehicle Police Investigators come knocking on the door looking for hard evidence of compliance with the law.

So what’s more important? An effective way of managing transport activity risks, that complies with the law, or a Safety Management System that is not required by those laws? Nowhere in the Heavy Vehicle National Law are safety management systems mentioned.

Managing CoR Risks Systematically

What if you can have a systematic approach to managing CoR that address the requirements of the Heavy Vehicle National Law and will demonstrate the evidence you need to help avoid a prosecution in the event of a visit by the Police, Road Authority or Safety Regulator? That’s where CoR Comply comes in. It’s all the policies, procedures and forms you need for CoR compliance, that when implemented, provide you with a system for managing CoR risks and compliance with the HVNL. It needs to be implemented and actively managed in your business. But the hard work has been done for you.

CoR Comply is specifically designed to suit the operations and resources of small and medium transport businesses

You won’t need to be concerned when are sent a CoR questionnaire from one of your clients either, or if they decide to come and audit you. You will have everything you need.

Confused About What You Need To Do?

There continues to be a lot of misinformation about what you need to do and some consultants are misleading in suggesting that a CoR Management Plan is needed or you need to be monitoring and managing other businesses in your supply chain. The fact is, everyone is responsible for their own compliance activities and the more you interfere in others, the more liability you accept if something goes wrong. The NHVR have even put out the word that some of the CoR third party audits within the supply chain go too far and over-step the intent of the laws.

That said, there are many global companies using road transport suppliers that demand participation in invasive audits. Rest assured, CoR Comply will also tick this box for you.

In fact, CoR Comply is the preferred system for a large FMCG distributor throughout their Australian operations.

Now You Know What To Do

CoR Comply was created as a simple and cost effective tool for transport operators specifically to comply with the Chain of Responsibility reforms introduced to the Heavy Vehicle National Law in October 2018. It is a set of documents, policies, procedures and forms that you can purchase online, download immediately, tailor to your business and implement. There are 5 packages and each comes with a step-by-step implementation plan that you assign responsibilities and tick off when each step is completed.

It was developed by safety experts with hands-on transport industry experience and is built around what works for small and medium sized transport businesses. It’s great for larger businesses who want peace of mind their sub-contractors are compliant and also makes for easy auditing if all your subbies are using one system. You don’t need go ferreting through all through all sorts of documents every time and then find they miss the mark anyway.

We offer 1 month free implementation support and ongoing support is also available.

Chain of Responsibility Industry Terminology

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Chain of Responsibility and the road transport industry, like many professions, has it’s own language and terminology.  All of which which makes perfect sense in our world, but can be confusing to those who are new to the field. As a health and safety professional, I am guilty of this, although being conscious of it, I try to translate my ‘health and safety speak’ back to normal speak – for example, instead of talking about ‘identifying hazards’, it’s more engaging to ask – ‘what can go wrong here, how can people get hurt?’.

When I first started working in transport, everyone seemed to know what they were talking about (except me) but I decided to wait to pick it up rather than ask. That was things like – LCL (less than a container load), FCL (full container load), FAK (freight of all kinds), PE (personal effects), TEU (Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit).

Instead of talking about ‘identifying hazards’, it’s more engaging to ask – ‘what can go wrong here, how can people get hurt?’

Heavy Vehicle Regulation has its own set of acronyms and abbreviations that are commonly used, even in the Law and Regulations, so below is a table with explanations of some of the abbreviations you will commonly see.

Table 1. Common Chain of Responsibility Abbreviations

Abbreviation For What This Does
HVNL Heavy Vehicle National Law The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) is the law that regulates all vehicles over 4.5t GVM in  participating jurisdictions in Australia. The purpose of this law is to promote and support the safe and productive transport of goods and people by heavy vehicles. Read more about the HVNL 
NHVR National Heavy Vehicle Regulator This is the statutory authority that administers the HVNL. The question we all want to know is why is one called the Heavy Vehicle National Law and the other the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator?
PBS Performance Based Standards These are design standards for heavy vehicles to be able to carry a heavier payload. The standards refer to the vehicle components, which are developed by engineers and very technical.
CoR Chain of Responsibility CoR recognises the on-road effects of actions, inactions and demands of off-road parties in the transport and supply chain, and provides for their accountability.
NTC National Transport Commission The NTC is an independent statutory body that contributes to the achievement of national transport by developing regulatory and operational reform of road, rail and intermodal transport
IAP Intelligent Access Program Satellite tracking and wireless communication technology to remotely monitor where, when, and how heavy vehicles are being operated on the road network.
LCL Less than a Container Load A consignment that is less than a full container
FCL Full Container Load A consignment that takes up a full container
FAK Freight of All Kinds Pretty self-explanatory – consignments of anything and everything
PE Personal Effects When people ship personal belongings – bikes, beds, furniture, clothing etc.
TEU Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit This is a measure for shipping containers. A 20 ft container is one TEU. A 40 ft container is 2 TEU. One 40ft container and 2 20 ft containers would be 4 TEU
Box A shipping container

We hope that you have found this information useful. Please get in touch with CoR Comply if you have any questions.

What is the HVNL?

The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) is the law that regulates all vehicles over 4.5t GVM in  participating jurisdictions in Australia. The purpose of this law is to promote and support the safe and productive transport of goods and people by heavy vehicles.

We hear so much about Chain of Responsibility (CoR) anyone could be mistaken for thinking that CoR covered everything about heavy vehicle safety and compliance. The term CoR is used as a catch all, but it’s just one part of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL). This legislation is 676 pages long, has over 800 sections and there’s five separate Regulations as well. Although National by name, it is not actually national. Western Australia and the Northern Territory have not applied the HVNL and of the States that have, each has made some deviations. There are many issues with application and interpretation of the laws, which has prompted a full review by the National Transport Commission (NTC). It is described by the NTC as being complex and onerous for the industry to comply with and for the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator to administer, difficult to read and interpret in parts, takes a ‘one size fits all approach’ and inconsistently applied and enforced. Now for the good news – it is currently under review!

676 Pages & 5 Regulations

Currently the HVNL covers PBS vehicles, IAP, road access permits, accreditation, documentation, vehicle operations (standards and safety, mass, loading, dimension, fatigue management), enforcement, sanctions, penalties and general matters around administration of the Law. The 5 Regulations that support the Law provide more detail on:

  1. Fatigue Management
  2. Mass, Dimension Loading
  3. Registration
  4. Vehicle Standards; and
  5. General which is about Performance Based Standards (PBS) vehicles.

Chain of Responsibility in the HVNL

Chain of Responsibility (CoR) comes into the Safety Duties in Chapter 1A of the Law stating the safety of transport activities relating to a heavy vehicle being a shared responsibility of each part in the chain of responsibility for the vehicle. Parties in the chain of responsibility are listed and the factors on which the level and nature of the party’s responsibility depends.  There are 13 other chapters in the HVNL that don’t talk about chain of responsibility.

Enforcement of the HVNL

The State Road Regulators enforce the HVNL, but South Australia and Tasmania have transferred across to the NHVR as will Victoria later this year, when the VicRoads Transport Safety Services area will come under the NHVR banner. Breaches of the HVNL comprise safety and enforcement action including warnings, improvement notices, infringement notices through to charges being laid to be heard in Court. There can also be significant costs and disruption to business associated with enforcement action. When something goes wrong that attracts the attention of the Regulators (and that can be all three at once – Police, Road regulator and safety regulator, eg in Victoria that’s Vic Police, VicRoads and WorkSafe), being able to demonstrate that you understand your obligations under the Law and run a compliant operation puts you in a stronger position to avoid enforcement action. Each party in the Chain of Responsibility needs to understand their role in the chain and manage the safety risks of their transport activities as they relate to the heavy vehicle. CoR Comply has been specifically developed for transport operators to do this as quickly and easily as possible without having to spend thousand’s on complex, lengthy documentation and consulting fees. We’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to. The CoR Comply system, when properly implemented, will reduce your risk of prosecution if the regulators come knocking.

You can learn more about HVNL here