The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is trying to get information out about next year’s changes to chain of responsibility legislation to each component in the chain, including drivers, owner-drivers and small operators subcontracting to the bigger operators. In the first of a two-part guide, Diesel went along to a session to find out more.
Talking to a room full of small operators at a freight facility, Kym Farquharson-Jones, NHVR Senior Advisor – Chain of Responsibility, uses her experience as a Queensland police officer and as roadside enforcement for Transport and Main Roads (TMR) in Queensland to colour her message and explain the situation.
The driver has to be mentally and physically fit to do the task. Fatigue, drugs and alcohol must not be affecting the driver. For the owner-driver, this applies to the owner themselves, but employing someone puts the onus on the employer to ensure the driver is fit and able.
Drivers think of the work diary as being the most important part of fatigue management, making sure the diary is right and compliant is of paramount importance to many in the industry.
“Yes, getting the diary right is important,” says Kym. “The most important component of fatigue is managing fatigue. The legislation defines fatigue as feeling sleepy, tired or exhausted. We all know it’s not limited to this. Once you start to feel like this, it’s actually too late. You need to manage your fatigue, as a driver, much earlier. You need to be aware of when you start to lose energy; it needs to be managed before it gets to the sleepy stage.
“The other part of it is in managing compliance. You have to be sure you are managing work records. Yes, you keep a record, but you have to be able to convince your employer, you’ve complied with the conditions of the law.”
“Even though the legislation is changing next year, for you as a driver the requirement is to do everything in your power to comply with the law,” says Kym. “Your second obligation is, if another person is affecting you complying with the law, you need to see it, write it down and record it. Say something to someone about it, because they’ve got an obligation as well. Those people who are affecting how you run your business, if it’s not safe, then they have an obligation to make sure they change their business practices.
“Chain of Responsibility is about managing all of your relationships. Whoever you are dealing with every day, affecting loading and unloading, those are the relationships you need to manage. If the person loading the truck isn’t doing the right thing, they need to be told. You need to have those conversations.”
From the owner-driver’s point of view, it is important to make those people, who are most influential in what they are doing, accountable. If someone is influencing the situation to the point where the driver has to break the law in order to do what is required, they are accountable.