Under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), all parties in the supply chain have a responsibility to ensure breaches of road transport laws do not occur.
This is particularly relevant in loading situations where loaders and drivers are responsible for the most critical and final checkpoint before a heavy vehicle hits the road.
In the Chain of Responsibility (CoR), loading managers and loaders have a number of responsibilities, including (but not limited to) ensuring that:
- a load does not cause the vehicle mass limits to be exceeded; and
- a load is placed in such a way and secured in such a manner that it does not become unstable, unsafe, move or fall off the vehicle.
Similarly, drivers are primarily responsible for ensuring that their vehicle does not exceed mass or dimension limits, and loads are appropriately restrained.
Examining a loader’s and driver’s role and responsibilities within the supply chain is the first step in identifying the principal compliance issues that arise in loading situations.
3 key compliance matters
Three important compliance matters that need to be checked are:
- Mass – including gross, axle/axle group limits, container maximum limit (for containerised cargo) and the provision of a complying Container Weight Declaration (CWD).
- Dimension – including that the goods are within the physical limits of the truck/tray or, if not, within permissible height/overhang limits for the vehicle.
- Load restraint – including that the goods are placed in accordance with the loading plan prepared jointly by the packer and driver, and that they are properly restrained (using equipment in good working condition) in accordance with the performance standards in the load restraint guide and/or any load restraint guidelines applicable at any loading site.
CoR compliance checklist for loaders and drivers
Below are some general points that can be included into a checklist, however, you will also need to tailor your checklist to your individual business and its particular loading practices.
- driver to advise of the vehicle’s gross vehicle mass, maximum load mass and axle mass limits (Note: If the driver/loader cannot accurately assess or determine the weight at time of loading, reduce the weight on the initial load and verify the weight at the first opportunity);
- loader to ensure that the load does not exceed the dimensions of any pallet, frame or skid, and it is suitably secured/wrapped for transport and is stable;
- loader to ensure the correct labelling of the load, including any mass information;
- driver and loader to liaise in relation to the loading plan, to ensure the allocation of weight over the vehicle will not cause axle mass limits to be exceeded and will permit suitable restraint of the load;
- driver and loader to ensure the load is suitably restrained, including inspection of restraint equipment to ensure that it is in good working order;
- driver and loader to ensure the load does not exceed vehicle dimension limits; and
- driver to complete and provide a driver declaration form if required.
It is important to note that the above checklist should only be used as a starting point.
As with any checklist, you need to specify the party that will be undertaking each activity. This will often depend on the circumstances, including the relevant knowledge/skill of each party and the particular loading practices in place at a site.
In an ideal environment, both parties should verify each matter.
Be aware that you can be held liable for a breach committed by another party in the Chain.
Liability under CoR
All parties must remember that there are other compliance obligations in relation to CoR which will need to be implemented in order to show a regulator that all ‘reasonably practicable steps’ have been taken to comply with relevant legislation.
The most significant one is the implementation of a CoR compliance policy, which is adopted throughout your business. Other steps include:
- having CoR-compliance terms in contracts with all relevant parties;
- providing training and instruction to those employees and contractors booking cargo or operating loading/unloading machinery;
- commitments to fatigue and speed compliance management; and
- having a compliance incident (near miss and/or breach) register and resolution mechanism in place.
Do you know your link in the Chain of Responsibility?
Find out where you and your organisation stands by reading CoR Adviser.
Written by top Australian transport lawyers, this monthly newsletter and online resource answer important questions and provides up-to-the-minute information you need on all areas of Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).