Consign, pack, load or receive goods? New heavy vehicle regulations in QLD affect your business

Article by Michelle van Tongeren

This article covers the main changes in the heavy good regulations in Queensland, due to take effect on 1 October 2018.

You don’t need to be driving the vehicles to be held responsible – it affects the whole supply chain. So you may want to read this if you consign, pack, load, or receive goods by this mode of transport.

What’s new with heavy goods regulations QLD?

On 1 October 2018, the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) will be amended to provide that every party in the heavy vehicle transport supply chain has a duty to ensure the safety of their transport activities.

The law applies to all states and territories except Western Australia and Northern Territory.

If you consign, pack, load or receive goods as part of your business, you could be held legally liable for breaches of the HVNL even though you may have no direct role in driving or operating a heavy vehicle.

In addition, corporate entities, directors, partners and managers are accountable for the actions of people under their control. This is the chain of responsibility (COR).

Are you in the chain of responsibility?

A party within the COR refers to any party in a position to influence, control or direct driver behaviour.

This broadly captures anyone involved in the business who makes decisions associated with the use of heavy vehicles on the road.

More specifically, the law can apply to:

  • Employer of a driver;
  • Prime contractor of a heavy vehicle;
  • Operator of a heavy vehicle;
  • Scheduler or load manager;
  • Packer, loader or unloader of goods;
  • Consignor or consignee; and
  • Associates of influencing persons.

Consignor/Consignee responsibilities under the new regulations

If you are a consignor or consignee, your responsibilities include ensuring that:

  • Loads do not exceed vehicle mass or dimension limits
  • Goods carried on your behalf are able to be appropriately secured
  • Operators carrying freight containers have a valid Container Weight Declaration
  • Your delivery requirements do not require or encourage drivers to:
    • Exceed the speed limit
    • Exceed regulated driving hours
    • Fail to meet the minimum rest requirements
    • Drive while impaired by fatigue

Please note that an incident or accident does not need to occur in order for you to be investigated, prosecuted and fined.

Maximum penalties for breaches will increase to $3 million for corporations and are $300,000 plus five years in jail for individuals.

What should you do to protect your business?

Each party in the COR must, as far as reasonably practicable, ensure:

  • The safety of the party’s transport activities in relation to the heavy vehicle;
  • You or your employees do not directly or indirectly cause or encourage another party in the chain of responsibility to breach the HVNL;
  • You or your employees do not directly or indirectly cause or encourage drivers to breach the HVNL;
  • Elimination or minimisation of public risk;

Practical solutions include:

  • Seeking out transport companies with a good reputation and avoiding working with those that are known to have a poor safety and compliance reputation;
  • Developing working procedures that:
    • Identify, assess, evaluate and control risk;
    • Manage compliance with HVNL;
    • Involve regular reporting, including to Executive Officers;
    • Document or record actions taken to manage safety.
  • Providing awareness and training programs;
  • Attending to compliance performance monitoring and response/remedy procedures;
  • Including compliance clauses in all supply chain contracts.

Organisations can also move to protect their own interest within the chain of responsibility by:

  • Implementing a compliance culture;
  • Identifying who has chain of responsibility or executive duties;
  • Mitigating risk by developing a due diligence checklist; and
  • Undertaking regular internal and external industry audits.

For more information on the imminent changes to heavy vehicle regulations in QLD, please refer to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator website or contact Michelle van Tongeren here on 07 3490 9988.