Reforms to the nation’s Chain of Responsibility laws are being supported by Australia’s transport ministers, who have amended the Heavy Vehicle National Law by developing primary duties which focus on safety.
According to a post on Prime Mover Mag reforms to Australia’s chain of responsibility law have received support in principle from the country’s transport ministers, including the development of primary duties focused on safety in the Heavy Vehicle National Law.
Ministers have agreed that reform is needed and a primary duties approach offers the best way forward. This approach is also consistent with other safety laws.
Paul Retter, CEO of the National Transport Commission (NTC) explained that reforms would include a primary duty on operators, prime contractors and employers to ensure the safety of their operations, as well as establishing detailed role-specific duties for others in the supply chain. We may see these reforms implemented as soon as next year.
Mr Retter also explained that primary duties for safety would bring COR laws in line with the nation’s current workplace health and safety laws. They would also provide an opportunity to consolidate or remove the problematic, prescriptive obligations in the law.
The NTC says the focus of the reforms is not to extend the scope of duties but rather to restructure and consolidate existing provisions, shifting to a more performance-based approach.
The NTC also said it would be calling for submissions shortly in response to a discussion paper which would canvas options for how these duties are structured, the standard of care that should be applied and how they will apply to executive officers of companies.
Mr Retter acknowledged the success of COR laws in improving road safety but recognised the need for them to be improved. He explained:
“Australia’s existing chain of responsibility laws have helped to prevent crashes on our roads,” Retter said.
“These laws need to be improved to help ensure more people complete their journeys safely and our challenge is to make sure they deliver the best safety outcomes possible.
“This in-principle support of changes to chain of responsibility duties now allows us to develop recommendations over the next few months that will make sure the appropriate people in the supply chain have every incentive to do what they can to keep Australia’s roads safe.”
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Another aspect of the laws that will undergo reform is the liability of executive officers, including which type of liability should apply.
During a meeting later in the year, the NTC will provide detailed recommendations to ministers and will release a discussion paper in early July in order to open the door for feedback from stakeholders. This feedback will then be used to draft recommendations for chain of responsibility laws reform. Thereafter, draft legislation will be developed for ministers to consider in May 2016, on condition of agreement, to the recommendations.
In the meantime, current Chain of Responsibility laws apply, find out more about it here.