Chain of Responsibility (CoR)
All parties in the road transport supply chain have specific obligations under the law to prevent a breach. It is called the CoR and it requires every responsible person in the supply chain to take positive steps to prevent mass, load restraint, dimension, and fatigue and speed offences.
All those with responsibility for activities that affect compliance with road transport laws may be held legally accountable if they do not meet their obligations. CoR legislation recognises the effects of the actions, inactions and demands of off-road parties in the transport chain.
How does it work?
Offences in mass, dimension, load restraint, and driver fatigue have been placed in risk based categories.
Breaches of these laws are classed as minor, substantial, severe or critical. This recognises that not all offences have the same impact on safety or infrastructure.
These risk based offences reflect similar breaches in related areas such as work health and safety and environmental protection.
A range of penalties (for example, warnings, improvement notices and prohibition orders) give courts greater enforcement measures for penalising offences. They also help to prevent, persuade and target the causes of breaches to ensure a culture of compliance within the heavy vehicle industry.
The ‘responsible person’ concept makes the laws applicable to a wide category of relevant persons responsible for the transport of goods. For example:
- Heavy vehicle drivers must drive safely and within speed and work/rest hour limits
- Loaders must load a vehicle safely and within mass and load restraint requirements to ensure the load is safe for transport
- Consignors must ensure the delivery of goods does not require the driver to exceed the permitted number of driving hours, fail to have minimum rest periods or exceed the speed limits.
A list of the parties in the CoR can be found in section 214 of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (NSW).
What penalties are in place under the legislation?
Breaches of CoR can be both administrative and court imposed and can be tailored to address specific types of offences. For example, the legislation distinguishes between first time offenders and systemic offenders, with more serious sanctions for those responsible persons that persistently break the law.
Examples of administrative penalties Roads and Maritime may issue include:
- Improvement notices – identifies areas of risk and requires a responsible person to address non-compliance
- Warnings – puts a responsible person on notice to address non-compliance where a minor breach is detected
- Infringement notices – can be an alternative to court proceedings for a less serious offence.
Courts may issue fines as well as having the ability to impose:
- Supervisory intervention orders
- Licensing and registration sanctions
- Prohibition orders
- Commercial benefits penalties.
In addition, body corporates may have a five times multiplier imposed on their penalty.
How does Roads and Maritime Services enforce CoR law?
Roads and Maritime is responsible for safe and efficient journeys throughout NSW. This means that Roads and Maritime must ensure all road users operate safely and within NSW and National road laws.
Roads and Maritime responsible for detecting, investigating and prosecuting breaches of CoR laws.
Roads and Maritime also assist, encourage and educate the road transport industry and responsible persons in the supply chain in understanding their CoR obligations.
If a driver receives a minor breach will Roads and Maritime pursue a CoR investigation?
It is not the intention of CoR law to make each offence an automatic investigation. CoR investigations will be pursued when it is considered appropriate such as sufficient information exists to demonstrate an alleged breach or it’s within the public interest to prosecute.
If a driver receives a minor breach a CoR investigation is unlikely.
If a driver receives a major breach Roads and Maritime may investigate whether this offence shows a continued pattern of non-compliance or whether it was a first offence.
What would Roads and Maritime look for to trigger a CoR investigation?
Roads and Maritime may initiate a CoR investigation in the following situations:
- Evidence of systemic and habitual breaches
- Evidence of continued unfair commercial advantage as a result of breaches
- Road crash that involves significant risks or damage to safety and infrastructure
- Evidence of unreasonable demands and pressures on other responsible persons in the supply chain.
Will Roads and Maritime pursue parties up the chain?
Roads and Maritime will and has prosecuted up the chain, responsible persons for breaches of CoR laws.
CoR legislation does not absolve any party of their obligations to comply with the law; rather it acknowledges the potential contribution of responsible persons in the supply chain.
What is involved in a CoR investigation?
A specialist Compliance Investigation unit manages CoR investigations.
A CoR investigation may involve any of the following:
- Inspecting and searching appropriate business premises or vehicles
- Requesting compliance related information, documentation or contract records and names, and contact details of other responsible people in the logistics chain
- Requiring reasonable assistance of relevant parties, including the interpretation of data and other information
- Seizing of relevant electronic equipment.
CoR investigations are a strategic tool used only when appropriate. For example, Roads and Maritime may investigate a particular industry sector or operator if evidence suggests that recidivist / repeat offender behaviour exists or their compliance record is poor.
Will the powers of investigation mean longer delays for drivers if pulled over by a Roads and Maritime Authorised Officer?
CoR has not changed the interactions between drivers and Roads and Maritime Officers during compliance checks.
Authorised Officers will continue to carry out on-road compliance checks to monitor compliance and detect breaches of NSW and National road laws.
However under CoR, Authorised Officers may, with reasonable grounds, decide that a heavy vehicle should be searched during a compliance check. In these circumstances, the amount of time a driver will be stopped may be longer.
Which premises can Roads and Maritime search and when?
Within limits, Roads and Maritime Authorised Officers can enter premises without consent and without a warrant for both monitoring, and investigation purposes if the place is a relevant place and is open for carrying on a business, otherwise open for entry, or required to be open for inspection under the Law . This power includes the power to search any part of the place or any vehicle at the place and to take anything from the place or to take copies from the place.
Roads and Maritime Authorised officer may also enter with the consent and cooperation of the occupier, however the officer’s powers to search are subject to the conditions of the consent.
Roads and Maritime authorised officers may also enter and search any premises under the provisions of a search warrant. If the authorised officer entered the place under a warrant, the officer’s powers are subject to the terms of the warrant.
Further information about the powers of Authorised Officers on entry to premises can be found in Part 9.2 - Powers in relation to places under the National Heavy Vehicle Law.
Does the legislation affect accreditation schemes like National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS) and TruckSafe?
These schemes are consistent with CoR objectives – safety and compliance. Some NHVAS accreditation modules, for example those relating to training and staff management, may assist in the development of codes of practice for industries.
How should I implement the CoR?
All responsible persons should take a risk management approach to their obligations in the CoR. This approach is consistent with other aspects of running a modern and successful business such as managing cash flow, work health and safety and the quality control of goods and services produced.
Every business in the chain should assess their responsibilities under CoR and undertake the appropriate steps to ensure compliance. This could include:
- Maintaining equipment and operational systems
- Including compliance and assurance conditions in relevant commercial arrangements with other responsible persons
- Training staff, suppliers and customers on CoR
- Developing, implementing and reviewing appropriate policies, procedures and workplace practices
- Seeking legal advice on CoR obligations.