Chain of Responsibility

blog 13
May 16, 2016

Chain of Responsibility

While many company owners will understand the idea that they shouldn’t set up jobs so that workers need to speed to get to the next job, I suspect few understand that this issue is covered in law. The wide implications of this are also poorly understood.

The Land Transport Act 1998 created an offence for every person who in some form contributes to a driver breaking the transport rules. “Every Person” is a broad term and includes any person who may have influenced a driver’s behavior and compliance. With the enactment of the Health and Safety at Work Act on the 4th April 2016, this will include company officers for the first time. This is not only the company officers of the trucking company, but potentially the company officers of the company buying and selling the product being transported (consignor and consignee).

The wording is clear in that you are liable if you have by act or omission, directly or indirectly caused or required (whether or not the sole cause) a driver to:

Exceed the speed limit (1)

Exceed maximum work time

Failed to take rest times

Fail to maintain a logbook

Breach maximum gross weight limits (2)

Other persons potentially included could be the person who loads a vehicle, freight forwarders or logistics planners.

This obligation now affects a wide range of organisation’s who previously have not considered this issue. An example could be the transportation of fresh produce or the urgent transportation of a vehicle between car yards. Be warned before applying pressure about delivery times, as it could have unforeseen consequences.

So what should you do?

If this is a significant issue for you, be clear that it is your expectation that sufficient time be allowed to comply with road rules and required breaks.

Additionally, the Health and Safety at Work Act has an impact on what is ‘reasonably practical’ due to a couple of changes:

1.The new term ‘worker’ means any worker who is doing work for you, so have a think about if any of your ‘workers’ are potentially being placed at risk by the way you operate your business.

2.PCBU’s who share a duty are required to consult, coordinate and cooperate with each other – so think about whether there are any other PCBU’s with whom you share a duty. You should be discussing this issue with them.

Bear in mind that this is limited by what is ‘reasonably practical’ so this only applies to things you are in a position to influence.

Adjusting to the environment created by the Health and Safety at Work Act means that as a PCBU you need to think about how you manage work activities that require your workers, or workers that you share, to drive as part of their jobs. Take the time to review your work practices and talk with your workers about the jobs that they do.

(1) Land Transport Act 1998 – Section 79T Offence to cause or require driver to breach speed limits, maximum work time, or rest time requirements

(2) Land Transport Act 1998 – Section 79U Offence to cause or require driver to breach maximum gross weight limits