Chain Of Responsibility (CoR) Compliance Overview

Governments throughout Australia (except Northern Territory) and New Zealand have introduced the concept of Chain of Responsibility (CoR) into road transport laws for Load Restraint, Axle and Gross Weights, Dimensions, Fatigue Management, Speeding, and Equipment Maintenance.

All parties in a supply chain (and not just the truck driver) share a responsibility for ensuring the compliance of trucks operating within that supply chain, whether the trucks are operated by a party internally or via an outsourced provider. This responsibility cannot be contracted to third parties.

Outcomes of 2018 CoR Reforms:

  • Align OHS and CoR laws
  • Executives – must exercise due diligence to ensure safe truck activities within the supply chain – internal or via outsourced providers
  • Companies – must have top-down CoR management system
  • Inclusion of vehicle standards (equipment maintenance)
  • Massive increase in maximum fines
    • Massive increase in maximum fines
    • For Individuals – Maximum fines increase from $16,000 to $300,000 and up 5 years jail

CoR Penalties & Prosecutions

Since CoR laws were first introduced, in NSW alone there have been more than 5,000 prosecutions for CoR breaches.  Many of these have included not only trucking companies but their customers as well.  A significant prosecution in 2017 was when consignor firm Remondis Australia, was fined $732,206 and paid $250,000 in legal costs for allowing overloaded vehicles of contracted trucking firm Jet Group Australia to carry its mulch between September 2013 and October 2014.

Reasonable steps are the actions people can take to ensure that heavy vehicle drivers do not drive in breach of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).  A person in the supply chain can claim a ‘reasonable steps defence’ if they can show they did not know or could not reasonably have been expected to know that a breach had occurred.

 

CoR Prosecution Case Study Examples

Load Restraint Prosecution

A consignor (the importer) and carrier were both found guilty for poor load restraint within a container, with the load shifting as the truck turned a corner, tipping the truck over and crushing a car, killing its occupant. Total cost of over $150,000

Load Restraint Prosecution

A consignor (Air Liquide) and a carrier it engaged (Doble Transport) were found guilty of load restraint breaches for poorly restrained gas cylinders that fell off a truck and killed a motorist. Total cost to defendants exceeded $140,000

Mass Management (Axle & Gross Weight) Prosecutions

Fines of $18 million against Graincorp (a consignee) for allegedly allowing overloaded grain trucks onto one of its sites during a harvest season. These fines were successfully removed on appeal but this took over 12 months of legal defence and damage to the company brand

Dimensions Prosecution

A consignor (Sims) and carrier (Delta) were each prosecuted when a vehicle combination struck the M5 tunnel in NSW, resulting in significant damage to tunnel infrastructure. Total fines of over $210,000 (not including repairs etc)

Fatigue Management Prosecutions

The owner and scheduler of South Penrith Sand & Soil were each prosecuted in relation to multiple fatigue offences. Total costs of over $100,000

Speeding Prosecutions

Scott’s Transport and Lennon’s Transport were each fined over $1.2 million for multiple speeding offenses (reduced on appeal but only after on-going legal defence and brand damage)

A carrier was caught speeding 10 times with freight of an LSS client on board each time. The carrier provided different details to the LSS client (via the LSS System) than those provided to authorities. The LSS client was deemed to have taken “reasonable steps” to check on carrier. The carrier was investigated for breaches.

Equipment Maintenance Prosecution

A consignor (the importer) and carrier were both found guilty for poor load restraint within a container, with the load shifting as the truck turned a corner, tipping the truck over and crushing a car, killing its occupant. Total cost of over $150,000