Apparently, some uncertainty still surrounds the meaning of a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle pursuant to s 7 of the Heavy Vehicle National Law 2012 (HVNL). By the way, we recommend that you take a close look at s 7.
Essentially, the HVNL applies to any:
- vehicle with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of more than 12 tonnes, including a vehicle combination of a total GVM of more than 12 tonnes;
- fatigue-regulated bus – this would include a bus of more than 4.5 tonnes fitted to carry more than 12 adults, including the driver; and
- truck, or a combination including a truck, with a GVM of more than 12 tonnes with a machine or implement attached. For example, a truck with a crane or drilling rig attached.
However, a vehicle built or modified to operate as machinery or equipment off-road, and which is not capable of carrying goods or passengers by road, is not a fatigue-regulated heavy vehicle.
Hopefully, now that we have straightened that out, what happens if you, as an owner-operator of a fatigue-related heavy vehicle, are asked to exceed your work hours to make a delivery deadline by consignors/consignees? What are your options and how should you respond?
Rosters and schedules
Geoff Farnsworth, Editor-in-Chief of the CoR Adviser newsletter, says that as an operator of a road transport business and a driver, your responsibilities include ensuring that rosters and schedules and terms of any consignments do not require drivers to exceed work, rest or speed limits. If you are driving while you are out of hours, you will be in breach of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).
“If you are being encouraged to exceed your hours by a consignor or consignee, they are also potentially liable for a Chain of Responsibility (CoR) breach of the HVNL, as they face an obligation not to encourage drivers to exceed permitted work/rest hours,” Geoff says.
He says that it might be time to take a tough stance.
“Although it may be difficult to do, the best way to respond is to stand your ground and indicate that you are prohibited from exceeding work hours, and they face liability if they encourage drivers to exceed the permitted work/rest hours,” Geoff states.
In the end, it might come down to assessing the relationships you have in your supply chain. Companies that are prepared to risk your safety – and the safety of your drivers and other road-users – while ignoring their CoR obligations might be worth avoiding for any future business dealings.
To find out more about your CoR obligations – regardless of where you sit in the supply chain – subscribe to CoR Adviser.
Written in plain English by Geoff and transport legal experts at Holding Redlich, CoR Adviser has all the CoR-related information you need to ensure you are not breaching CoR laws. Remember, these topics are most often NOT found in the daily media.
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