Let’s face it: The transport industry has a notorious reputation as one of the most hazardous in Australia. According to a survey of more than 1000 businesses conducted by Safe Work Australia, hundreds of heavy vehicle employers confessed to compromising safety standards to complete work on time. Yikes.
More concerning is the high acceptance of risk taking, rule breaking and minor incidents by the employers in this industry, which may have an influence in the high levels of truck-related workplace injuries and fatalities.
If transport is part of your business’s supply chain, make sure you stay on top of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), introduced as Australia’s national regulator for the operation of heavy vehicles over 4.5 tonnes on the road.
It is important to make note that ACT and NT currently have not adopted the HVNL in their jurisdiction and WA will not at all.
What is the Heavy Vehicle National Law?
This harmonised law covers fatigue management, heavy vehicle accreditations, vehicle modifications and inspections standards, speed limit management and mass, dimension and load restraint requirements, while state and territory police and authorised officers continue to enforce heavy vehicle laws.
According to the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) system, every person in the supply chain – including employers, contractors and operators – can be made legally liable for any offences or breaches that take place.
What you can do
Here are some ways to ensure that everyone in the supply chain is aware of his/her main duties and responsibilities within the HVNL:
- Ensure your vehicles are regularly maintained and serviced.
- Check that speed limiters on vehicles are functioning properly.
- Take traffic conditions into consideration when planning and managing the operations of heavy vehicles.
- All drivers must adhere to fatigue regulated work and rest times, including completing the National Driver Work Diary for vehicles above 12,000 GVM.
- Manage rosters and schedules realistically to encourage safe driving practices.
- Keep accurate records on drivers’ activities, including work and rest times.
- All loads placed on a heavy vehicle must be secured in compliance with the Load Restraint Guide from the National Transport Commission.Heavy vehicles must obey the dimension and load limits as stated in the Heavy Vehicle (Mass, Dimension and Loading) National Regulation.
- Drivers must possess valid Container Weight Declarations for freight container loads.
And of course most obvious, familiarise and keep up to date with the new laws and role of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.
Industry update: What’s new?
The latest amendments to the Heavy Vehicle National Law took effect on 6 February 2016. Key changes that you should be aware of include increased penalties for some offences that are consistent across all HVNL jurisdictions, the alignment of vehicle standards for new and in-service vehicles and the formal recognition of electronic work diaries, leading the way for their rollout in 2017.
Changes relating to electronic work diaries will have no immediate impact. The adoption of electronic work diaries is voluntary and is currently planned for late 2017.
As an employer, it is imperative that your business is up to date on the latest in industry developments and HVNL. The NHVR and the National Transport Commission (NTC) are excellent resources for the most current information on the heavy vehicle industry.