Transport Packaging in Chain of Responsibility

25 Mar 2022

The Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) imposes a safety duty on all heavy vehicle supply chain parties who have authority or influence over a transport task.

While this is local legislation, it may affect foreign directors of Australian companies and how containers are packed for shipping to and within Australia.

Failure to comply with any Heavy Vehicle National Law provision or its Chain of Responsibility sections may result in severe financial penalties. Additionally, the laws are meant to protect staff and the general public during the operation of heavy cargo transportation. Therefore, failure to adhere to them may jeopardise people’s lives.

Meeting your Chain of Responsibility duties will be determined mainly by the risks and elements you have control over. For example, if you follow the law in your employment, you are almost undoubtedly compliant. Additionally, you shouldn’t inadvertently violate the law by following non-compliant instructions from another. If you are directly responsible for performing the violation, you will be held liable.

What is CoR?

Traditionally, road transport legislation has targeted drivers and operators. Under the CoR system, all parties in the supply chain must comply with transportation laws. Violations can be prosecuted against anyone in charge of transport processes, not just the driver.

For example, a consignor/dispatcher must take reasonable steps to avoid violating road transport regulations about bulk size, dimensions, packaging, loading, speed compliance, and work hours.

Who does this affect?

  • Traders, importers, exporters, manufacturers and producers
  • Shipping lines and their agents
  • Freight forwarders
  • Stevedores
  • Any other company dealing with the transportation of cargo by any means, including road, sea, and air freight 

What is the purpose of the Chain of Responsibility?

The Code mandates all responsible parties to take proactive efforts to ensure transportation safety. Their actions shall not directly or indirectly result in a driver or another person infringing the Heavy Vehicle National Law. A CoR party must ensure the safety of their transportation activities “to the greatest extent feasible.”

And here are some of the risks and how Supply Chains can mitigate them:

Packaging responsibilities and due diligence

The CoR statute also covers preventing or reducing prospective injury or loss (risks). This statute guarantees you always recognise and explore potential dangers, reducing or preventing them before they arise.

As someone with influence over how and where things are packed in the supply chain, a packer is responsible for preventing violations of mass, dimension, loading, and fatigue constraints under the HVNL.

As a packer, you also have an ongoing obligation to avoid or reduce potential injury or loss (risks) to yourself or others and refrain from requesting, ordering, or directing illegal conduct.

AXIS Industrial provides professional packing services, on-site or at our facility. Our experienced and trained team comply with all applicable OHS standards and are certified to work at heights and in confined spaces. AXIS utilises a range of restraint approaches tailor made for individual products and modes of transport. Strapping, lashing, blocking, bracing, and void filling all contribute to the safety and stability of your cargo on even the most arduous trips.

The risks of Speeding and how it can be avoided

Speeding is defined as exceeding the posted speed limit connected to traffic fatalities and accidents. 

In this instance, schedulers are vital because they must issue alerts and rectify consignment arrangements that may force a driver to accelerate. These include express or overnight delivery, perishables or fast-moving consumer products, short lead times, increased volume or seasonal demand, and “stock outs” or backlogs.

Management should always schedule trips with enough time to get there safely and within the route’s speed limits. Weather, curfews and loading/unloading delays must all be considered.

Packing schedules and pick-up time planning should provide flexibility. However, schedulers must notify operators, drivers, loaders, and managers of any delays to avoid rushing drivers.

Fatigue Management

Heavy truck drivers are affected by weariness and the consequences along the chain of responsibility. Driving while tired raises this risk.

Some behaviours can help avoid fatigue, such as regular pauses and rest times to avoid weariness. It’s also very helpful to keep proper records and track the driver’s work and rest hours. Drivers should also be encouraged to self-report when fatigued, physically or mentally worn, tired, exhausted, or lacking vitality.

Load Limit 

Oversized or overweight cargo can cause major accidents and traffic delays. Overhead loads colliding with bridges, tunnels, and powerlines are examples. In addition, its weight may cause damage to the road infrastructure and hamper performance if the heavy vehicle is not fit for the purpose. This may also cause damage to the equipment or vehicle, such as suspension damage or structural failure.

A person who drives or authorises someone to drive a heavy vehicle on a public road must ensure that the vehicle’s mass, dimensions, and load limits are met.

Precautions for senders and receivers

No one in the chain of responsibility is enticed or encouraged to violate mass, dimension, or loading criteria; precise load weights are known, and loaded vehicles meet gross axle or axle group weight requirements.

Loading a truck compromises its stability. To maintain a vehicle’s stable load, it is necessary to precisely position, distribute, and secure the load. Therefore, supply chains must always modify the loading instructions and distribution plans.

Use safety equipment to load, restrain, and unload the freight. For example, many organisations use forklifts to avoid manual handling. A spotter or second person can help drivers load and unload the freight. You must also be mindful of the driver’s whereabouts while loading and unloading.

Implementing Vehicle Safety Standards

Each party in the chain of duty for a heavy vehicle is responsible for guaranteeing the safety of the vehicle’s transport activities. Therefore, a heavy vehicle operator on the road shall not violate the appropriate heavy vehicle standard.

Employers, prime contractors, operators, loading managers, loaders, and unloaders are all responsible for selecting the appropriate vehicle or vehicle combination.

A daily visual safety check is required. You should have a procedure for tracking and reporting vehicle issues. This system should recognise, assess, and prioritise issues. You should also create periodic maintenance schedules with defined service intervals and activities. Maintaining correct records and paperwork is required.

Schedules and rosters should not force drivers to neglect vehicle upkeep.

The driver must be notified immediately if any loaders, consignors, or management notice a vehicle issue. The vehicle must be repaired before driving again.

CoR Training

Risky behaviour can be reduced by increasing knowledge of the potential repercussions of harm or loss. Furthermore, ensuring that all relevant personnel are equipped with the knowledge makes it easier for the supply chain to comply with transport regulations. 

CoR training discusses impediments to job performance, such as societal and personal qualities, such as speeding and fatigued driving. Therefore, all parties should establish a training management system for the CoR.

In Conclusion

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator in Australia developed the Master Industry Code of Practice, which defines the duty chain for all individuals and companies involved in heavy vehicle transport. Everyone who operates a heavy vehicle or uses heavy vehicle transportation in their business is accountable to the chain of accountability. A chain of duty applies to heavy truck drivers, schedulers, consignors, consignees, packers, loaders, unloaders, employers, and anyone overseeing these activities.

With Chain of Responsibility standards now more closely aligned with the Work Health and Safety Act, you may find that some of the methods and procedures you already use to meet your obligations overlap with your Chain of Responsibility obligations. Likely, the mechanisms in place to comply with Occupational Health and Safety legislation will also assist you in meeting your HVNL requirements.

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