Supply chain laws to get tougher

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 4th June 2008

The ‘chain of responsibility’ could be about to become more stringent, with new laws to be introduced in NSW to crackdown on companies setting unrealistic deadlines.

If the legislation is passed, businesses, which promote unsafe driving practices by enforcing impractical targets, will be charged and/or fined.

The NSW initiative follows the nationwide introduction of the ‘chain of responsibility’, which came into force in 2005. This legislation was introduced to ensure that “all who bear responsibility for conduct which affects compliance should be made accountable”. The law covers the receiver of goods, the loader (supplier), truck driver and the manager/scheduler; meaning that all involved in the supply chain need to be aware of their responsibilities.

The NSW Government, however, is clearly still alarmed by the amount of avoidable accidents involving trucks on the road, as since that legislation they have also introduced the Heavy Vehicle Rating System (to enable both repeat driver and operator offenders to be identified) and the “three strikes” scheme. This scheme results in all operators who collect 3 strikes (occur when a driver is caught going at least 15 km/h over the limit) in a three-year period having their vehicle’s registration suspended for up to 3 months.

Long-haul truck drivers have previously claimed that unrealistic expectations have been put on them in order to meet deadlines. Consequently, past surveys indicating high drug use amongst truck drivers are not unexpected. A crackdown on truck drivers last week by WA police in Norseman resulted in 11 truck drivers being charged for drug possession and/or driving under the influence of drugs. The three-day blitz reportedly led to the seizure of $30,000 worth of amphetamines and supported arguments by unions that truck drivers are under too much pressure.

NSW Roads Minister, Eric Roozendaal, claims that plans to extend the ‘chain of responsibility’ laws are to ensure all players in the supply chain will be dealt with more appropriately.

“These laws will make it harder for truck operators, including big corporations, to force drivers to speed or to drive unsafe hours and reduces the ability of the final customer to make unreasonable demands of the trucking companies,” Minister Roozendaal told the Sydney Morning Herald. “It means all parts of the logistics chain will be responsible for the behaviour of heavy vehicles on our roads including employers, operators, consignors, loaders and schedulers.”

Those in the supply chain will follow with interest to find out just how much stricter the ‘chain of responsibility’ law will become in NSW.