Australian businesses involved in the supply chain including drivers and operators of heavy vehicles are required to meet strict Chain of Responsibility (CoR) laws to ensure the workplace health and safety. Additionally, they are required to keep detailed documented audit trails to prove they are complying with the requirements. These compliance-heavy industries are becoming overwhelmed and frustrated by implementing and managing these processes as well as at the sheer volume of paperwork that can be involved.
In recent years, a major amendment to the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) legislation changed the way businesses need to manage the safety and operation of heavy vehicles. The new legislation places responsibility on all members of the supply chain to prevent breaches of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL). Everyone now shares responsibility for being CoR-compliant, from company directors and management teams to consigners, dispatchers, loaders, contractors, partners and drivers.
Should a vehicle lose its load and cause an accident or injury, no longer does that responsibility lie solely on the driver. The CoR legislation means that if your company was involved in the load you could be at risk of liability. Proving the correct safety measures were implemented and providing documentation is crucial.
Major causes of CoR breaches
There are three common mistakes that can lead to unintentional breaches:
1. Not understanding your role in the CoR
Businesses and employees must equally understand their role and expected responsibilities in the CoR framework. If there is confusion about where they fit in the chain, the right process may not be implemented, potentially leading to non-compliance.
2. Not having the right CoR system management processes in place
Companies need to consider the broader risk and implement the necessary compliance processes to ensure they are mitigated.
3. Not monitoring CoR compliance
As with any business process, CoR compliance will not be successful if you ‘set and forget’ your processes. Once you have a CoR system in place, you must monitor it ongoing for compliance to ensure that the systems you implemented are successfully ensuring safety.
Putting the right systems in place
With tougher penalties now in place for CoR breaches, you’ll need to implement tools and systems that will help monitor business operations from the top down to ensure compliance. Each stage of the chain has a different element of responsibility, from an executive to a foreman and the drivers. That’s why ensuring the correct measures are in place for each element is critical. At the top level, this may be having access to the extensive pipeline of information and audit checks, whereas for a loading dock worker it could be a safety checklist.
Adopting digital processes can help with their enforcement to ensure you meet regulations. More than this, it can help you optimise current business processes, making them more efficient, cost-effective, and compliant.
Digital workflows provide real-time visibility into business operations, letting senior employees instantly see the details of compliance checks as they are performed. Staff can complete their safety procedures digitally using a tablet, including all the relevant details and instantly uploading the report to the company’s systems. Customised workflows to include photos as proof of completion, automatic notifications, multiple approval points, deny progression to uncompliant jobs, or request approvals to progress to the next stage. The information is instantly available for viewing and stored should it be required for an audit, removing bottlenecks and guaranteeing compliance.
The value of digitising your CoR processes:
Digitisation and real-time information can help your business meet CoR requirements in the following ways:
- safety processes can be implemented to help adhere to requirements
- multiple approval points throughout the entire loading process can help reduce human error
- digital audit trail and record makes it easier to prove compliance
- multiple checks and balances including randomised questions/checks can help rule out false positives
- additional proof with photo capture also proves compliance
- instant information lets you take immediate corrective action, otherwise the vehicle is not released
- risk mitigation is dramatically improved through better access to information and a lower risk that a vehicle will be released when it shouldn’t be
- easy access to job information should an incident occur.
Digital workflows can help streamline document workflows and safety procedures through storage and retrieval processes and help to increase document and employee safety and compliance abilities. By eliminating counterproductive tasks such as manual processing, employees reduce human error and contribute to a compliant and safer environment for everyone.
The ever-evolving nature of legislation means that businesses must be able to readily adapt to changes in the industry. Digital workflow management increases efficiency, accuracy and visibility of tasks, letting your business readily adjust and ensure compliance. Digital workflows also provide digitalised and timestamped evidence of approvals at every level, to truly put the responsibly on everyone in the supply chain.
To find out more about how Upstream Solutions can help transform and streamline your CoR compliance processes, contact us today.