21 February 2022
One of the most significant but under the radar changes introduced to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) in recent years was giving the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) the power to issue regulatory guidance to the industry.
The NHVR has recently released its very first ‘Regulatory Advice’ on managing the risks of transporting freight in shipping containers.
In Chain of Responsibility (CoR) land, the safety and compliance risks of transporting freight in shipping containers should be well known. The 2015 case of Futurewood set new legal precedent on what those importing shipping containers should do to ensure that the transport of those containers within Australia was safe. After that case did the rounds for many years, in March 2021, the NHVR commenced proceedings against a consignor of a similar imported shipping container load, alleging that they failed to meet many of the requirements set down in Futurewood.
The regulatory advice is targeted at the parties within the CoR who are likely to conduct or have responsibility or control over relevant transport activities relating to shipping containers – so, consignors, consignees, port facilities (loaders/loading managers), freight forwarders (often consignors) and transport operators. As the NHVR says in the regulatory advice:
“If you consign, pack, load or unload goods, you have the most ability to influence and manage the risks associated with transporting freight in shipping containers.”
The regulatory advice identifies the following businesses as likely to fall within these categories – importers, exporters, manufacturers, freight forwarders, freight brokers, shipping agents, container terminal operators, stevedores, freight consolidation or deconsolidation providers.
The key risks arise from failure to pack or properly restrain goods within shipping containers. Many people fail to realise that a shipping container is not a magic box. If goods are not packed or restrained properly within a container, they can cause the load to shift and destabilise a carrying vehicle or even break out of the container. The main risks are:
The answer is simple – unsafe loads lead to unsafe vehicles, which pose safety risks to drivers, road users, the public and road infrastructure.
Further, and with particular reference to transporting containerised loads, the regulatory advice notes that:
“Heavy vehicles transporting freight in shipping containers are significantly more likely to be involved in safety incidents than vehicles carrying general freight”.
The regulatory advice concludes by providing tailored practical guidance to each of the parties or businesses mentioned above with steps that they can take to prevent or minimise the above risks or their consequences. For example:
If you have any questions or need help developing practices in accordance with the regulatory guidance, contact us or send us your enquiry here.
Author: Nathan Cecil
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 article is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future.