The chain of responsibility when it comes to heavy vehicle safety will be greatly expanded under new changes to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (“HVNL”) due to come into effect mid 2018.
This could affect your responsibilities and duties from mid 2018, even if you have no direct role in driving or operating a heavy vehicle.
The changes will mean that anybody who consigns, packs, loads or even receives goods as part of their business could be held legally liable for any breaches of the HVNL.
This means, for example, if you are using a transport company to cart grain from your property to its point of sale then you can be liable for any offences that occur in relation to the truck used to cart your grain. These offences could be in relation to overloading, fatigue, speeding and other traffic infringements.
To limit your liability, you should be putting into place reasonable steps to prevent breaches of the HVNL, by:
1) preventing overloading;
2) ensuring goods to be carried on your behalf are appropriately secured;
3) operators carrying freight containers have valid Container Weight Declarations;
4) your delivery requirements do not encourage drivers to:
a) exceed speed limits
b) exceed regular driving hours
c) fail to meet minimum rest requirements
d) drive while impaired by fatigue
5) ensuring the terms of any consignment contracts will not result in, encourage, reward or provide an incentive for the driver or other parties in the supply chain to break the Heavy Vehicle National Law.
This new risk once again reinforces the need to properly structure your business operating entity to reduce the exposure of business owners to personal liability.
Resources to help you manage the law changes can be found at www.nhvr.gov.au. If you have questions about this issue and how it applies to you please contact us on 07 4671 6000 for advice.