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What is Chain of Responsibility?

With the ever evolving Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL), Compliance Council have become market leaders in the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) space and provide our clients with CoR advice, CoR management plans, compliance audits, awareness training through a tailored approach across Australia. 

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, schedulers, and site staff. 

Traditionally, legal liability for trucking accidents fell to the drivers, or in some cases, to owners and operators. This approach had significant weaknesses. 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 only occurred in severe cases. 

This resulted in influence party’s actions being disregarded and overlooked, even when their influence resulted in dangerous conditions or behaviours.

To achieve a healthier working environment for truck drivers and to better protect the public on the roads, changes were made to the law to include these influential parties. These law changes were the start of Chain of Responsibility (CoR) and Heavy vehicle National Law (HVNL) .

The aim of Chain of Responsibility is to hold all direct and indirect stakeholders within any supply chain accountable for their involvement. The process between manufacture or extraction of the freight or materials by the supplier; through to the purchase and arrival for consignees have some level of influence to ensure the safe delivery of these goods. 

The Chain, in a sense is every person or company involved in getting goods transported and delivered from point A to point B. The law recognises that all parties may be held liable for offenses committed by a heavy vehicle driver whilst performing the freight task. 

CoR is made up of 4 Core risks that must be eliminated or minimised by the carrier to maintain road transport safety on Australian roads. These core risks are the foundation of heavy vehicle transport safety and the pillars that may lead to the prosecution of offenders. 


Chain of Responsibility Core Risks

The aim is to improve driver and community safety by addressing the key hazards relating to the four CoR core risks:

1. Speed

  • The risks within your business that may result in a vehicle operator breaching the Australian Road Rules.
  • The likelihood that speeding will result in an incident.
  • The controls you currently have, and use manage the risk of speeding; and
  • Additional mitigating actions you plan to implement to eliminate or further minimise the risk.


2. Fatigue

  • The risks within your business that may result in a vehicle operator driving whilst impaired due to fatigue or by being under the influence.
  • The likelihood that that a driver will work beyond their physical capabilities of the legally allowable hours.
  • The controls you currently have, and use to manage driver fatigue; and
  • Additional mitigating actions you plan to implement to eliminate or further minimise the risk.


3. Mass, Dimension and Loading

  • The risks within your business that may result in a vehicle operator driving an overloaded, over-dimensional vehicle or with inadequately restrained freight.
  • The likelihood that that weight, dimension, or restraint will result in an accident.
  • The controls you currently have, and use to manage the freight, goods, materials or equipment on your vehicles; and
  • Additional mitigating actions you plan to implement to eliminate or further minimise the risk.


4. Vehicle Standards

  • The risks within your business that may result in an unroadworthy vehicle operating on Australia Roads.
  • The likelihood that that unroadworthy vehicle will leave your premises and result in an accident.
  • The controls you currently have, and use to manage the maintain and repairs of your vehicles; and
  • Additional mitigating actions you plan to implement to eliminate or further minimise the risk.


Do I need a Chain of Responsibility Management System and Plan?

Any organisation who performs or is capable of controlling or influencing the performance of ‘transport activities’ needs to manage their transport tasks to eliminate or minimise their risks as far as reasonably practicable. The expectation to target these risks is through system developing and implementing safety plans to combatant known hazards with the appropriate controls. Additionally, the process of continuous improvement will keep a company relevant in an ever-changing and advancing marketplace.

Failure to plan and control these risks can have significant impacts on the organisation, including but not limited to:

  • An adverse impact to public safety.
  • Increased risks to driver safety.
  • A limited heavy vehicle capability and scope of works.
  • Reduced workforce efficiency and employee engagement.
  • Potential criminal and civil charges for a breach – Such as fines and criminal proceedings against staff and the company.
  • Reduced adaptation and conformance to industry and safety trends and technological advancements.
  • A less productive, economically viable, and innovative fleet of assets.
  • Lost or reduced economic competitiveness.
  • Impact on organisation goodwill and public relations.

Organisations who have the procedures and controls in place, and the vision of continuous improvement lower the likelihood of the above consequences. A good system will not guarantee the safety of a workforce and the general public and thus the avoidance of the above; but a poor or non-existent system will leave a company significantly more exposed to risk and vulnerable to any of the above impacts. We guide you through and smooth the process of identifying what compliance framework features your business needs to develop and a suitable way of developing these. As needed, we can provide further guidance to assist you to develop the particular compliance practices that suit your business. Ultimately, the identification of the particular risks arising from your business and the development and implementation of risk management practices and how you conduct your operations rests with you. But, with our expertise in risk management and experience within the transport sector, we can assist and guide you every step of the way.

Compliance Council’s CoR team will work alongside and support our clients to develop and implement strong systems, plans and procedures to maximise the following SFAIRP:

  • Increase safety controls.
  • Highlight technological avenues to reduced risk.
  • Understanding your organisational risks.
  • BAU process improvement.
  • Adequately preserved and fault averse asset fleet.
  • Correction and amendments to poor company practices; and
  • Transparency of organisation scope and key influencers.

Client Testimonial


Ezi Loads

Compliance Council assisted Ezi Loads develop and implement a Chain of Responsibility Management System and subsequent plan to assist with management over 120 trucks nationally. Ezi Loads are one of Australia's leading providers in Taxi Trucks, Interstate Haulage, Labour Hire and Warehousing.


'Compliance Council not only built our plan and system, they tailored it to our exact specifications. They made the process simple, easy to implement and ensured we could embed it into our operation. I would recommend Compliance Council to anyone who takes their CoR seriously. Isaac, myself and the all the team at Ezi Loads Australia would like to thank the whole team at Compliance Council for their assistance.'


Jason Ajdani - Director of Ezi Loads Australia. 


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What does my business gain from CoR compliance?

Safety reputation and competitive advantage

The primary function of heavy vehicle national law is to reduce the risk and consequence of incidents on Australian Roads. An increased control of the transport task will reduce the risk of incident or injury to you staff, contractor, and members of the public.

A cleaner safety record makes a company more competitive in any marketplace.

Cost saving

CoR management minimises the risk of downtime through accidents and provides possible cost saving through public liability insurance premiums. Identifying hazards and controlling risks at the earliest stage could help reducing business cost by preventing safety issues.

Employee motivation

Leadership commitment to safety and safety culture can change the way employees think of the organisation. As long as workers see their health and wellbeing is important for leaders, they are more likely to work better and be more productive.

Continuous Improvement

Adherence to a risk management process that aligns to the HVNL will ensure a companies safety controls are constantly reviewed, updated and improved as per the

Third-party feedback

Clients, 3rd party logistics providers, subcontractors and consumer feedback is important to identify gaps, reward compliance and maximise the level of service, safety, quality and control.

The system will help build and strengthen these relationships.

Reduced Risk of Criminal or Civil Prosecution

Breaching any aspect of the core risks may result in substantial civil or criminal prosecution.  

Any corporation who acts recklessly as to risk the safe delivery of the goods may be subject to fines as high as $3,000,000, whilst individuals who act recklessly may be subject to fines as high as $300,000 and a maximum 5-year imprisonment. 

Having a strong management plan in your organisation will guarantee solid controls and minimise the likelihood of prosecution should an accident occur.  


How do Compliance Council Help?

Compliance Council’s system is designed to align to the 12 requirements of the Master Industry Code of Practice under section 706 of the Heavy Vehicle National Law. Compliance Council can assist your organisation to develop and implement a Chain of Responsibility Management System to drive compliance to the HVNL, including:

  1. Policies and Procedures drafted with reference to the HVNL and Master Code.

  2. Transport task and role identification for interested parties.

  3. Risk Management and assessment.

  4. Driver Safety, Health and Wellbeing.

  5. Strategy and continuous improvement.

  6. Incident Management and Hazards identification.

  7. Consultation and Communication.

  8. Document and record management.

  9. Improved alignment to the primary duty of interested parties.

  10. Continuous improvement and monitoring.

  11. Competency, training, and development.

  12. System and process review.

  13. Contractor Management.

  14. Risk Control Automation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What industries does Chain of Responsibility apply to?

Chain of Responsibility and compliance to the HVNL affects all stakeholders within the chain. However, there are key industries to which the CoR primarily applies:

- Transport and logistics

- Supply chain management

- Warehousing & 3PL

- Construction & Infrastructure

- Transportation such as buses

- Mining & Resource

- Farming & Agriculture

What does Chain of Responsibility compliance do for my business?

It provides assurance to all stakeholders within the chain that you understand and abide by your legislative requirements, and demonstrates that your organisation exercises due diligence. 

Who from my company is involved in the CoR management system development?

At a minimum, an organisation's executive team such as Directors, C suite managers, Senior Management and key operational management must be involved in the development of the management system, and participate in the key workshops. 

How long does it take to achieve compliance?

The duration an organisation takes to achieve CoR compliance is dependent on the existing level of compliance to said requirements. 

Generally, it takes Compliance Council 2 - 3 months to develop and implement the Chain of Responsibility Management System. 

Are there any hidden costs?

Unlike many competitors who operate by a time and materials model, we operate by a fixed-fee model. We provide clients with proposals that outline the methodology for the project, the deliverables, and the total cost.

Is the initial consultation obligation free?
The initial screening and consultation meeting is complimentary. This allows us to get an understanding of how your business works and; and this helps us to provide you an accurate proposal.

Executive Team

Matthew Allport
Matthew Allport
Jason O’Grady
Jason O’Grady
General Manager

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