The Chain of Responsibility Weighs Heavy on Hauliers

Fair Contracts and Effective Journey Planning are Key Issues

Australia is taking a hard line on fatigue management with its Chain of Responsibility (COR) laws for supply chain operators. Rules introduced on 1st October 2018 make it clear that multiple parties can be held legally responsible for offences committed by HGV drivers and operators.

A prosecution against N Godfrey Haulage, governed by this legislation, is underway in Victoria, Australia. It was adjourned last month to allow the defence to consider evidence. The case relates to driver fatigue management.

 

Poor Business Practices can put Drivers Under Pressure

Safety for drivers, colleagues and the public is of paramount importance in logistics and distribution. Similar legislation in the USA and UK sets out operating standards, rest breaks and driving time limits.

The Australian rules are explicit about the responsibility of employers, managers and even clients to give drivers and support teams enough time to maintain vehicles, perform checks, load and operate safely and drive at legal speeds and with appropriate breaks. The onus is on decision-makers to ensure that their contractual service level agreements and performance targets don’t put drivers under pressure to act unsafely.

The law clearly addresses unscrupulous and unethical management and operational policies that lead to risk-taking. But ignorance and lack of information are just as heavily penalised. Transport operators need to scrutinise their data and planning tools to ensure they provide realistic and safe schedules and route plans, with adequate contingency built in.

 

The Goal is Minimal Risk and Maximum Efficiency

No reputable operator wants to risk the safety of its staff, associates or the public. But efficient operational planning is essential for a viable commercial business. Too much slack in a schedule means lost time and profit or uncompetitive pricing that ultimately loses custom. Sector-leading route planning software and tools and reliable mapping and traffic data are essential to achieve both efficiency and safety.

Operators must make sure their systems are accurately configured to reflect their processes, their fleet and different types of load and journey. Regularly updated map data is essential to plan the most effective routes and realistic journey times, so that drivers don’t feel under pressure to take risks or increase their road speed.

Traffic information and live re-routing can help drivers avoid delays and find stops to meet their rest schedules.

In Australia, the fatigue management rules apply over consecutive days, so driver scheduling tools need to take into account both shorter and longer breaks for compliance across an extended period.

Overloaded or poorly maintained vehicles can increase on-the-road risks. Keeping a digital record of checks and procedures carried out avoids mistakes and helps operators maintain an audit trail. Automated alerts can flag up missed or delayed checks and support employees in keeping to company procedures for routine maintenance, fuelling, tyre and brake checks and load levels.

 

Safety is Paramount but Reputation Matters Too

Retailer Aldi is involved in a long-running dispute with the Australian Transport Workers Union (TWU) that relates to safety and maintenance practices. Aldi strongly refutes the allegations, which it has called “lies and untruths”.

Every responsible business wants to avoid this kind of bad publicity: robust and accurate logistics and route planning systems can help maintain good relations with workers and unions. As well as ensuring consistent, safe performance at every stage of the supply chain, they reassure employees and customers that the organisation takes its COR obligations seriously and prioritises investment in effective tools and processes that protect drivers and supply chain staff and the public.

 

Logistics Managers Need the Best Tools and Data for Safe Planning

How confident are you that your transport planning tools are up to the job? Can you demonstrate that your planning methods are fully compliant with legislation in your operating territory – including HVNL (Australia), FMCSR (USA) or DfT and VOSA (UK)? Technology and best practice evolve all the time so it’s important to review your approach, systems, data and methods regularly.

Truckstops is a proven route planning solution for logistics in Australia, the UK, the USA and worldwide. It’s fully configurable to match the requirements of your fleet, cargo, drivers and customers. With accurate and up-to-date mapping and live traffic information, it’s an invaluable tool that helps operators fulfil their chain of responsibility and fatigue management obligations.

Our expert logistics team can help you audit your current system and advise you on areas for improvement or optimisation.

 

If your organisation needs help making sure they are compliant with driver fatigue management laws, then get in touch with our distribution and logistics technology team.