09 December 2019
Published by Rebecca Niumeitolu
Registered Industry Codes of Practice (RICP) are codes developed by any Chain of Responsibility (CoR) party that is registered by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR). They set out detailed, practical standards and procedures to achieve compliance with the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL). In this article, we unpack the benefits of adopting these codes and look at how to do so.
Why develop or adopt an RICP?
RICPs operate on a voluntary ‘opt-in’ basis. Advantages that arise from developing and adopting RICPs include:
RICPs are a useful tool for any party in the CoR or industry group to set out practical ways to achieve compliance with HVNL requirements. As they are developed by industry participants, they offer industry-focused solutions to compliance issues.
For example, the Master Code is an RICP administered by Safe Trucking and Supply Chains Ltd. It focuses on compliance with speed, fatigue, mass, dimension and loading requirements, as well as compliance with vehicle standards.
Rather than simply stating the HVNL requirements for various CoR parties, the Master Code offers options and procedures for CoR parties to implement to avoid these breaches. Rather than stating, “Don’t allow a driver to drive in breach of work and rest options”, it tells operators, “If you become aware the driver is impaired by fatigue, stop the driver immediately, and arrange for the drier to have a rest break” (page 50). It further prompts the operator to establish escalation processes to deal with drivers impaired by fatigue.
RICPs are admissible as evidence in proceedings as to whether or not a duty or obligation under the HVNL has been complied with pursuant to s 632A of the HVNL. If an HVNL contravention arises that is covered by an RICP, the Court can have regard to the RICP to ascertain the nature of a hazard or risk, risk assessment or risk control and to also determine what would have been reasonably practicable for the accused to do in response to such risks and HVNL obligations.
Therefore if a party voluntarily adopted an RICP to set out its standards and procedures for compliance with a particular HVNL obligation and that party were charged for contravening that same obligation, it could produce the RICP as evidence in the proceedings to support a finding that it complied with that particular HVNL obligation.
An industry code of practice that is tabled for development is the Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association’s ‘Managing Effluent in the Livestock Supply Chain’ code of practice (Effluent Management Code). The issue of restraining livestock effluent has long been an industry concern, particularly where effluent discharge is an inherent risk of transporting livestock and drivers may nonetheless be charged in respect of a failure to contain their loads.
Arguably, a code addressing this ongoing concern has the capacity to assist industry to comply with effluent load restraint requirements under the HVNL and to obtain the NHVR’s tick of approval to their proposed steps for compliance with that obligation, while also giving industry (in particular drivers and operators) a buffer to defend against charges for failures to restrain effluent.
As the Effluent Management Code may assist CoR parties in the livestock transport supply chain to clarify their HVNL obligations, the same may be said of the capacity for RICPs to assist industries facing regulatory grey-zones to clarify their HVNL obligations.
How do you develop and register an RICP?
A RICP must comply with the NHVR’s Industry Codes of Practice Guidelines for Preparing and Registering Industry Codes of Practice (Guidelines).
Before formally approaching the NHVR, it is useful for code developers to consider the target areas the code will cover, its purpose and to do an industry call-out to ascertain whether such a code would be adopted if introduced. This is because there are costs associated with developing, registering and maintaining a code.
Formal steps to register a code involve:
Author: Rebecca Niumeitolu
* A version of this article was originally published in CoR Adviser. This article is © 2019 Portner Press Pty Ltd and has been reproduced with permission of Portner Press.
The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this newsletter is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.
Published by Rebecca Niumeitolu