The practical impacts of the changes in the chain of responsibility rules, due to commence next year, are all about the relationships with other parties in the chain. It’s all about talking to them and working out how to make the activity safer.
Simple things like onboard mass monitoring can make sure the truck is not overloaded and can start the conversation. GPS tracking enables you to keep an eye on things. Toolbox talks help get the message out. Operators need to be looking to see if there is a safer way to do a job. Operators can work with other parties in the chain to see if their procedures are helpful.
The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator now runs enforcement in South Australia and has three CoR investigators in the state. They are carrying out investigations using the principles set out in the new rules. They are proactively looking a parties in the chain in the state.
“Investigators are going to ports, the councils, all suppliers parties in the supply chain to say, ‘how are doing business?’,” says Kym Farquharson-Jones, NHVR Senior Advisor, Chain of Responsibility. “What they are already doing is looking at primary duties. We will work together with people where we can.
“When I was issuing speeding tickets and I stopped a car, I could hear the abuse before I got out of the police car. They were saying, ‘I pay your wages, why don’t you go out and catch the real criminals?’ Do you think they were going to get a ticket?
“Working together where appropriate is about the attitude test. If you want us to come and help, to work collaboratively with you, we can do that. If you want to call me nasty names it’s going to be a different road.
“We are actually going to come in and have a look at how people manage mass, fatigue and maintenance. We will test that, asking for work diary pages for a particular driver, or weigh-bridge dockets for a particular combination. We will review systems and make recommendations. The focus will be on business practices.”
Kym runs through a practical example of how a scenario may play out after July next year. If there are long queues at the port, with many trucks waiting hours to load. The average number of trucks in the queue at any one time could be 20. Drivers can’t rest because they have to move forward with the queue.
“What’s the risk in this?” says Kym. “Fatigue of the drivers is the issue here. Drivers are going to get ratty, not perform well and get tired. The approach here is to work with the operators, asking them how they are managing it. Talking to schedulers and loading managers to try and get this solved as quickly as possible.
“Proactive management means, don’t wait for something to happen. Have a look at what you are doing now and making it the safest it can be. Make sure your vehicles work well and your people are trained, qualified and know what they are doing.”