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10 November 2020
General Business

What is Chain of Responsibility (CoR)?

Supply chain changes affect businesses, large and small, all across Australia. In October 2018, Chain of Responsibility (CoR) laws were changed to be more closely aligned with the health and safety laws.

In this article, we’ll look at the basics of Chain of Responsibility, who’s involved in the legal changes and what CoR means for your supply chain.


What is Chain of Responsibility?

The Chain of Responsibility is a concept that places legal obligations on parties involved in the transport supply chain. It was developed to address the idea that truck drivers’ behaviour is influenced by the actions of other parties, particularly managers and schedulers.

Traditionally, legal liability for trucking accidents fell to the drivers only, or in some cases, to the owners and operators. This approach had significant weaknesses. For one, it ignored the liability of other parties, including consignors, manufacturers and loaders. Where other parties could be held liable, the action was usually carried out through legally cumbersome means, such as “cause or permit” or “aid and abet.” Because of the troublesome legal issues, prosecution of other parties in the transport chain was rare and tended to occur only in severe cases.

The result? The actions of some parties were disregarded, even when their influence resulted in dangerous conditions: driver fatigue, speeding, overloading and load-resistant behaviour.

To achieve a healthier working environment for truck drivers and to better protect the general public on the roads, changes were made to the Chain of Responsibility law.


The 2018 Amendments to the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) Laws

Recent updates align Chain of Responsibility laws more closely with the health and safety requirements. Let’s look at a few examples.


“So Far as Reasonably Practicable”

Before the 2018 update, CoR law used the phrase, “Reasonable Steps,” instead of “So Far as Reasonably Practicable.” This change means that “something is, or was at the time, reasonably able to be done to ensure health and safety while taking into account and weighing up all relevant matters.”

By including the phrase, “So Far as Reasonably Practicable,” new CoR law embraces the idea that competent people should be able to make sensible decisions based on their understanding of risks and how to control them. In essence, it allows people to create proportionate solutions instead of merely prescriptive ones.


Onus Returns to Prosecution

Since the 1 October 2018 CoR update, it’s up to the prosecution to prove guilt rather than the defendant having to prove innocence. 


Focus Upon Business Practices

Previously, Chain of Responsibility law focused on driving breaches, but the recent changes have placed the focus on business practices. With an eye to preventative measures, such as building systems that identify and control risks, the entire industry will hopefully adopt better freight-moving practices.

These are a few of the 2018 amendments to CoR laws that spread the liability to all who have responsibility for tasks where actions, inactions or demands put lives at risk.


Who’s Involved?

When we talk about “all who have a responsibility,” who exactly is included?

Under the Chain of Responsibility law, parties who influence or control the transport chain could include all of the following:

  • Corporations, partnerships, unincorporated associations or other bodies corporate
  • Employers and company directors
  • Consignors/senders and consignees/receivers of goods for transport
  • Exporters and importers
  • Primary producers
  • Drivers
  • Prime contractors of drivers
  • Operators of transport companies
  • Schedulers of goods or passengers for transport
  • Loaders and unloaders of goods
  • Loading managers and supervisors
  • Managers of the premises where loading and unloading occurs

As you can see, anyone influencing control over the transport chain has a responsibility to use sound judgement and best practices.


What CoR Means for Your Supply Chain

Dividing the supply chain into four main segments makes it more manageable:

  1. Local (usually within 100km from the base)
  2. Intrastate (movement of goods within the same state)
  3. Interstate (movement of goods between states)
  4. International (movement of goods between countries)

To accomplish all of this movement, a variety of modes can be used: road, rail, air and sea. The Chain of Responsibility affects anyone in the supply chain whose demands, actions or inactions could put lives at risk.

From your top executives to base-level employees, everyone affected by CoR should understand your CoR Framework, which will help you to satisfy NHVL requirements. We've developed the documents and processes that will help you achieve this goal effortlessly.


1. Discovery Workshop

This half-day workshop involves assessing your organisation’s current logistic activities against CoR and HVNL requirements. We help you review your existing process and procedures. With the review done, it is easy to complete the CoR checklist to ensure policy and procedure information is captured.


2. Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is one of the most critical measures to take. The review gauges effectiveness regarding fatigue management, speed management, competency measures, mass and load management, and maintenance and upkeep.


3. System Development

To keep your organisation on top of its game, you must develop reliable systems. In this step, we’ll look at the Chain of Responsibility system documents reflective of procedures, policies and processes. We provide all relevant forms, checklists and registers.


4. Awareness

As mentioned previously, all relevant staff need to be aware of the newly mapped CoR plan. To provide ongoing support and training, we develop and deploy a monitoring schedule.


To learn more about Chain of Responsibility and how we can help you bring your organisation’s competency up to speed, reach out to us at Compliance Council. We’re here to help!