The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) continues its informational blitz ahead of upcoming changes to chain of responsibility (CoR) laws.
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The new shift in focus should improve and clarify risk and safety systems. © Flickr: KDC Hoeppner CC BY-SA 2.0

The changes are to come in force mid-2018 and will focus more attention on business practices that manage risk, rather than individual driving practices. The NHVR has released information preparing stakeholders for the changes, including a new video this week.

That latest video, "Industry Approaches to Safety Management Systems", features "senior logistics and safety staff from Metcash, Woolworths, Branstrans and Martins Transport" discussing operational philosophies of risk and safety.

According to the NHVR the concept of a chain of responsibility, as applied to logistics, "mean that any party in the chain who has the ability to control or influence over the transport activity is responsible for safety on the road". The 2018 updates will bring current regulations closer in line with Work, Health and Safety regulation, and ensure a greater emphasis on operational and business systems.

Broadly, the changes include a move from "deemed liability" for safety, towards "a duty to ensure safety"; and the necessity to ensure safety "as far as reasonably practicable" (rather than simply taking "all reasonable steps"). In the case of court action, the onus of proof will lie with the prosecution to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt what could have been, should have been, and wasn't done.

Vehicle standards and maintenance will now be enforceable as a dimension of safety (alongside speed, fatigue, mass, dimension, and loading). Executive officers must also "apply due diligence to ensure compliance with the safety duty".

A trove of videos, information sheets, checklists and other tools concerning chain of responsibility are available from the NHVR.