As a result of a joint initiative by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and the National Transport Commission (NTC), the National Heavy Vehicle Accreditation Scheme (NHVAS) has undergone a detailed review. This month, we take a look at what the new rules require of you for the purposes of mass management accreditation.
Changes to NHVAS in 2015
The NHVAS allows heavy vehicle operators to demonstrate that the operation of their vehicles and/or drivers complies with regulator standards. This is done by auditing their relevant management systems. Participants in the scheme now have access to more flexible conditions under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) relating to mass, maintenance and fatigue management.
The NHVAS Standards and Business Rules changed on 1 March 2015, with the objectives of:
- ensuring more effective safety requirements for heavy vehicles
- strengthening the quality of audits
- enhancing the standing of auditors.
The changes that apply to NHVAS auditors include requirements that auditors be registered with the NHVR and meet prescribed criteria in addition to being certified as a head auditor.
It also gives the NHVR the power to reject the auditor nominated by an operator, and instead request that the operator choose a different auditor, so as to prevent any potential conflict of interest.
The business rule requirements for mass management
Chapter 8 of the HVNL prescribes the requirements for heavy vehicle accreditation. It is a condition of accreditation that any participant in the accreditation scheme must comply with the NHVAS Standards and Business Rules.
The current Mass Management Standards are contained in Schedule 1 of the NHVAS Standards and Business Rules. The Mass Management Standards address the following:
- vehicle control
- vehicle use
- records and documentation
- internal review
- training and education
- maintenance of suspension.
Each of these aspects is addressed with a concise statement of the required standard and, where appropriate, the criteria to satisfy the standard. For example, in relation to vehicle use, the standard is described in the following way: 'The vehicle mass must be determined by weighing or by a method of assessment prior to departure allowing for any variation.'
The criteria are set out as follows:
'To satisfy the standard an operator would need to demonstrate the following:
3.1 Documentation of a system that objectively demonstrates that product loading is controlled to ensure that axle mass and gross mass remain within those limits allowable under the Mass Management System.
3.2 The system should cater for all possible variations, including density, number, volume, etc.'
Accordingly, within the standards there is some flexibility as to how the criteria might be met as required to demonstrate the relevant standard.
Once an applicant is confirmed as an entrant to the scheme under the Mass Management Accreditation module, there is a range of requirements for the maintenance of accreditation.
In particular, the maintenance of accreditation is dependent upon a participant's history of compliance – not only with the relevant module of the NHVAS and the HVNL more generally, but also with the overriding public safety and road infrastructure objectives of the HVNL, including:
- the promotion of public safety
- the management of the impact of heavy vehicles on the environment, road infrastructure, and public amenities
- the promotion of industry productivity and efficiency in the road transport of goods and passengers by heavy vehicles
- the encouragement and promotion of productive, efficient, innovative and safe business practices.
In assessing a participant's eligibility to maintain accreditation, performance is monitored through a program that involves:
- compliance audits
- investigation of complaints
- compliance checks.
What are the benefits of NHVAS mass management accreditation?
NHVAS accreditation for mass management:
- enables operators to demonstrate that the operation of their vehicles complies with the relevant standards
- offers participants access to flexible conditions under the HVNL
- delivers improved safety and efficiency for participants and road users
- may be relied upon in demonstrating the 'reasonable steps' defence under the HVNL.
Under the Heavy Vehicle (Mass, Dimension and Loading) National Regulation 2013, provision is made for concessional mass limits (CML), allowing operators to operate at mass limits above the national general limits they would otherwise be bound to. Operators of a CML heavy vehicle must ensure that the vehicle maintains the relevant accreditation label in order to drive under the concessional mass limits.
This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.