The task of complying with the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) can sometimes seem overwhelming. Many people wonder where to begin. In this article, we look at how to get started and how you can get more bang for your compliance buck using the 'big 5' process.

Where to start?

The HVNL and explanatory materials issued by the regulators list a number of suggested steps that can and should be taken to get you along the compliance path to meet your CoR obligations:

  • Section(s) 620, 622 and 623 list steps that you can undertake in relation to mass, dimension, load restraint, speed and fatigue management compliance; and
  • Section 625 sets out how you can rely on compliance with a registered industry code of practice in order to demonstrate compliance with the HVNL.

In addition, the Commonwealth and State regulators' websites contain helpful compliance pages and summaries that include further compliance examples.

All of this material is very helpful, except the only problem is that when faced with the full list of suggested (although in truth, more 'required') compliance tasks, many people feel overwhelmed.

The quest for perfection

One problem some people encounter when considering compliance is the unattainable goal for perfection. Many people consider the long list of suggested compliance tasks and think that there is no point in implementing one or a small number of them, given that essentially all are required in order to achieve compliance.

Many people procrastinate on the basis that, until every compliance component is ready, there is no point implementing one or a few of them. Unfortunately, this results in them not putting any compliance measures in place. Or if they do implement some of them, they do so without any great enthusiasm and little effectiveness.

Although most elements in an overall compliance management system are related and/or interdependent to an extent, this is not a reason to do nothing until everything is 100% ready to go. When you are implementing a compliance framework, and developing and adding to it over time, it may mean that you have to revisit and retool the linkages in some cases. This is better than holding off entirely.

5 big steps to compliance

If you are finding the initial task of compliance insurmountable, then one suggestion is to break the larger compliance task down into manageable chunks. If you adopt this approach, you should focus your efforts on the compliance components most likely to give you the biggest bang for your buck. We call this the 'big 5' process. The process has been set out in the step-by-step below.

Follow this process to achieve CoR compliance within your organisation:

Step 1: Develop a CoR compliance policy and procedures

Your first step should be to develop and implement a CoR compliance policy and working procedures within your business and between your business and every other party in the chain with whom you deal. A CoR compliance policy should set out a summary of the CoR obligations that are imposed within your relevant supply chain. It should also show how those obligations should be addressed by each relevant party and what might be done in the event that those obligations are not met. A copy of your policy should be provided to each of the other parties in the chain.

Step 2: Improve awareness and implement compliance training

People in your business cannot comply unless they know what is required of them under the HVNL. They also need to know how your business has resolved to manage its primary compliance obligations (i.e. as contained in your compliance policy and procedures). To do this, you need to roll out your compliance policy and working procedures within your business and supply chain. All CoR-facing staff and contractors should be provided with awareness briefings and training in your new policy and procedures. General awareness and training should be refreshed periodically and you need to put a process in place to ensure that all new staff and contractors are inducted.

Step 3: Include your compliance policy in your contracts

Your CoR compliance policy and procedures should be given legal force where possible. A great way to do this is to introduce terms in your contracts with road transport supply chain participants that require them to comply with the HVNL and your policy and procedures. Under the HVNL, these terms are called 'compliance assurance conditions'. You should reasonably detail them in your contracts and include penalty provisions that will allow you to withhold payment or suspend or terminate the contract if your counterparts do not comply with their CoR obligations.

Step 4: Implement monitoring procedures

CoR compliance is not static. You will need to monitor your compliance policy and procedures to establish that they are being followed and compliance assurance conditions are being met. Your business should implement a system of compliance cross-checking, internally and externally, to ensure that this is happening. Any compliance issues should be logged, investigated and rectified or resolved.

Step 5: Ensure a top-down approach to compliance

CoR compliance must occur from the top of the tree down to the roots. Your executive officer, directors and managers must all be involved and exercise oversight over your compliance framework. Directors and managers have an independent duty under the HVNL to do so. In order for them to discharge their duty, directors and officers need to receive compliance reporting information. This will allow them to check how your business and your counterparts in the chain are performing. It will also ensure that any repeat or significant non-conformance is being addressed at an operational level.

Compliance is a big task. It can't be avoided. But it can be managed, particularly if it is broken down into smaller chunks.

By taking care of the 'big 5' above, your business will be substantially moving in the right direction on the path to compliance.

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.