Are you a link in the chain of responsibility?

21 July, 2017

If you’re involved in road transport, your business will share the responsibility of managing the hazards and risks associated with any activities that occur in the transport supply chain.

Chain of responsibility legislation and regulations have been effective in WA since 2015 and operate to place obligations on those involved at all steps in the transport chain, including consignors, packers, loaders, drivers, managers, receivers—and even extending to company directors.

These laws were introduced in an attempt to:

  • improve road safety
  • reduce damage to infrastructure
  • promote a level playing field for industry
  • improve deterrence and enforcement
  • improve business efficiency and compliance.

So, what does this mean for you if you are involved in the supply chain in any way?

These laws mean that you may be deemed liable if you have failed to take reasonable steps to manage any risk and ensure that road safety has not been compromised in any way.

Most of these obligations have existed for drivers for quite some time, but the 2015 changes meant that more people along the chain would be responsible for breaches. As the owner or manager of a business involved in transport, you will need to ensure that all loads have been properly restrained and do not exceed any dimension or mass limits.

You will need to take reasonable steps that you are managing any risks associated with road safety. These steps could include:

  • Conduct a compliance audit against current legislation
  • Review work processes and identify areas of risk for the business
  • Undertake an inspection of the workplace and plant and equipment
  • Implement and document appropriate policies, procedures and workplace practices
  • Assess training requirements of staff and ensure adequate supervision is provided where necessary
  • Educate people at the workplace
  • Review contractual arrangements with third parties

You should also regularly monitor and review practices to ensure any systems that you have put in place are being complied with.

If you are the business’s owner or operator, you may have the benefit of a reasonable defence if a breach has occurred.

You also may not be held liable for an offence where you can establish that the vehicle was being used at the time by:

  • An employee who was acting outside of the scope of his or her employment
  • An agent or contractor acting outside the scope of their engagement
  • Any other person who was not entitled to use the vehicle.

► Need further information about your obligations as an owner, operator or manager? Business Law WA can help – contact us now on 9365 7622 or email BusinessLawWA@cciwa.com.