Under the new laws, everyone in the supply chain must take ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent driver fatigue and ensure a driver does not drive a heavy vehicle while impaired by fatigue – an approach consistent with existing Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) laws.
Employers and customers will be held accountable for dangerous work schedules and long truck queues, which are known to be major causes of fatigue.
If poor business practices endanger the lives of other road users, there will be severe penalties for those responsible.
Penalties escalate sharply for offences which pose a serious road safety risk and may include court-imposed fines of up to $50,000 and demerit points.
Pointing the finger at someone else who has broken the law does not automatically mean you are no longer responsible. In some circumstances, you may have multiple duties under the Chain of Responsibility and are therefore also liable.
To comply with the law, you should ensure that you can demonstrate reasonable steps were taken to prevent a breach from occurring in your workplace or as a result of your activities. There are no limits to the ways in which you can do this. What constitutes reasonable steps will vary according to each individual’s circumstances. You may need to change the way you do business on a daily basis.
Taking reasonable steps could include:
- developing an industry code of practice
- use of accreditation schemes
- reviewing your business practices
- changing your commercial arrangements
- adopting a risk management approach
If you exercise control or influence over the transport task in your workplace you can be held legally liable for your actions, inactions or demands if they have caused or contributed to a road safety breach. The law requires you to take reasonable steps to prevent your conduct from causing or contributing to a breach. In addition, the law also prohibits you from:
- making demands that you know or ought to know would cause a breach
- entering into contracts that you know or ought to know would cause, encourage or give an incentive for a breach
- coercing, inducing or encouraging breaches; and passing on false or misleading information that could cause a breach