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Chain of Responsibility Part 1

You cannot continue to ignore your Chain of Responsibility obligations

Chain of Responsibility (CoR) is an often used and quoted term, the concept is nothing new within our industry and the foundation legislation is certainly not new, with various states and territories having specific CoR legislation and regulations going back almost 10 years. The problem can be the application of our understanding of the term and the impact this can have on our people and the wider community.

Many businesses are more than aware of the changes in the all-encompassing 2011 Work Health & Safety Act but many, including some of the biggest players in our industry, are ball watching. While there are significant role models in the market, the evidence is that significant portions of the business’s which utilise logistical services are not doing the right thing.

In NSW this year the Police and the newly minted RMS launched six targeted campaigns against what the media loves to term “rogue” truckies. The results of these campaigns show the reality that they are far from rogue. In August the joint NSW Police/RMS Operation Steel targeted over 350 HGV’s in an 18 hour period.  160 defect notices were issued, a fleet of 12 trucks was grounded on the spot and one driver was charged for possession of crystal methamphetamine, a drug that allegedly has an increasing presence within the road transport industry. The inspections also uncovered dozens of examples of dangerous safety breeches from non-existent load restraint, non-complaint speed limiters, seriously defective brakes, falsified work diaries, fatigue breaches and so on.

Year to date, one in every two HGV’s inspected by traffic authorities in NSW has been found to be defective, with 629 drivers issued with breaches, defects and infringements for multiple offences including speeding, exceeding working hours and failure to bring a log book. 4% of vehicles were so defective they were grounded immediately. On top of this you have drivers impaired by drugs and alcohol with Victoria Police’s Heavy Vehicle Checking Unit recording year to date that 1 in 8 of all tested HGV drivers returned a positive reading for drugs, the majority of these for methamphetamine. These results are vastly higher than non-commercial drivers and represent a significant jump from the 1 in 17 found last year.

The message is not getting through and a problem this endemic cannot be about a rogue element. The media roars about getting dangerous truckies off the road, it makes great copy, and there are drivers who don’t belong behind any wheel. Blaming individual drivers or specific transport companies is a knee jerk reaction. Of course they have a case to answer and their case isn’t helped when the Director of one of targeted transport companies was reported to have said on the radio recently that he wasn’t responsible for what his drivers did.  That this thinking can even exist is the issue as it speaks to the culture of safety outsourcing. Not only is he is legally & morally accountable for what his drivers do or don’t do with regard to safety but so, to varying degrees, are all the businesses, and individuals in his supply chain from consignee, consignor, allocators, dock managers right down to the forklift driver.

This was first published by the Logistics Association of Australia in their Dispatch Magazine in October 2012