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NHVR issues regulatory advice on managing safety risks of light to medium heavy vehicles

12 April 2022

3 min read

#Transport, Shipping & Logistics

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NHVR issues regulatory advice on managing safety risks of light to medium heavy vehicles

Just three months after the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) issued its first regulatory advice on ‘Managing the risks of transporting freight in shipping containers’, the NHVR has followed it up with a piece of new regulatory advice on ‘Managing the risks of light to medium heavy vehicles’. In this article, we look at what this next advice entails.

What is a ‘light to medium heavy vehicle’?

A ‘heavy vehicle’ is a vehicle with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of more than 4.5t. The GVM is the maximum permitted loaded mass for that vehicle.

A ‘light to medium’ heavy vehicle is one with a GVM between 4.5t and 12t.

Who is this regulatory advice for?

Many non-transport businesses use light to medium heavy vehicles for their operations, but probably don’t naturally consider themselves as parties in the Chain of Responsibility (CoR). Examples are manufacturers or distributors who deliver products, builders, concreters, landscapers, plumbers, and small plant operators who move their own plant, tools and materials using such vehicles.

This regulatory advice is intended to educate businesses such as those mentioned, although their primary focus or function is not transport, they are still parties in the CoR. This education focus is similar to that undertaken by the NHVR over many years in relation to other larger users of transport services who might not own or operate heavy vehicles and might not have considered themselves a party in the CoR. For example, loading managers, packers, consignors, consignees etc.

What are the hazards risks?

The NHVR recommends that businesses conduct a transport risk assessment covering:

  • the type of transport tasks being conducted, including ‘transport-related’ activities such as load planning, consigning, packing etc.
  • the types of loads being transported
  • the environment in which a heavy vehicle is operated
  • the skill level required by workers to safely operate the vehicle and perform their tasks.

Some of the risks and hazards arising will likely include:

  • vehicle collisions, which often result from the other risks and hazards canvassed
  • driver distraction, which is a major cause or contributor to on-road crashes
  • mechanical safety, including the requirement for vehicles to meet heavy vehicle standards and Australian Design Rules
  • load shifting or falling of a vehicle, which is often the result of poor load planning, a lack of skill or training in load restraint or a lack of suitable load restraint equipment
  • driver fatigue, which may be caused by poor rostering practices, underlying medical conditions or lack of sleep
  • health, alcohol and drug impairment, which can lead to driver distraction, fatigue or general impairment
  • inadequate experience and skill, including a lack of knowledge, instruction or training in relation to the use of equipment, load restraint, basic driver safety and the requirements of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL)
  • speed, which greatly increases the likelihood of crashes and includes going above the speed limit or driving too fast for the conditions of the road or load.

Managing those risks

The NHVR notes that it is important to manage the above risks to keep workers, road users and the public safe and to meet CoR legal duties.

The regulatory advice points out that:

“If a business engages in operating, driving, loading or unloading a vehicle, the business holds a duty under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) to ensure the safety of its transport activities.”

Finally, the regulatory advice discusses ways in which businesses can manage these risks, including:

  • ensuring vehicles are fit for purpose, safe, roadworthy, and properly maintained
  • placing loads correctly to maintain vehicle stability and safety
  • securing loads to prevent them from falling or being dislodged from the vehicle, including applying appropriate restraints
  • having systems and processes in place to manage driver fatigue and alcohol and drug use in the workplace. 

Author: Nathan Cecil

  • This article was originally published in CoR Adviser. The article is © 2022 Portner Press Publishing Pty Ltd and has been reproduced with permission of Portner Press.

The information in this article 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.

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