Now is a good time for businesses to take stock of where they stand with compliance and make sure they are well-positioned for the rest of 2017.

Compliance structures can relax over time as familiarity sets in or as our focus shifts to other projects. In the absence of that catastrophic incident that sharpens our compliance resolve, it is natural for some compliance practices to slip. But compliance is a resolution that we have to keep, and the regulators are determined to keep us on the straight and narrow.

So, now is a good time to conduct a quick health check of your Chain of Responsibility (CoR) compliance.

Why you should conduct a CoR health check

Apart from general wellbeing, conducting a regular health check of your CoR compliance can also have two important benefits:

  1. You can identify gaps or deficiencies before they lead to problems, and before the regulators identify them for you; and
  2. You can identify where your compliance practices have fallen behind the times. Compliance knowledge and practices change over time. What were once novel compliance practices eventually become standard industry practice. When they do, they arguably fall into the basket of being 'reasonable steps' you are required to take to be compliant.

What your CoR health check should include

Your CoR health check should cover both 'hard' and 'soft' compliance components.

Checks should be made of your hard documentary CoR compliance framework, which could include checking to ensure that:

  • you have a written CoR compliance policy and the policy is provided to every supplier, subcontractor and customer, and is included or referred to in your contract or terms of engagement with them
  • your driver induction package is up to date, complete and, importantly, consistent across all sites or business units (unless unique operating practices require differences)
  • you have a written driver declaration/journey plan covering each CoR component (e.g. mass, dimension, load restraint, speed and fatigue)
  • you keep a CoR incident log that it is being used properly across each of your sites and business units; and
  • you have records of consistent tool box or other training and awareness broadcasts relating to CoR compliance.

Checks should also be made of your soft CoR compliance practices to ensure that actions are being carried out in accordance with your policies and procedures, which could include checking to ensure that:

  • your employees know where to find your CoR compliance policy and compliance contracting terms
  • your transport booking staff are aware of the requirement to set reasonable time expectations when booking transport, and they do not pressure transport operators or drivers to exceed speed and fatigue limits
  • driver compliance induction is consistently being conducted
  • branch or line managers are regularly reinforcing compliance requirements with employees, including having performance management discussions where compliance procedures haven't been followed; and
  • any non-compliance incident or concern is being followed up with any third party concerned/involved, e.g. supplier, subcontractor or customer.

If you don't have any of these components in place, you should consider whether they are applicable to your business and should be put in place.

Putting in place a regular health check for your CoR compliance will help cement compliance as part of your business process. Further, the fact that you conduct a health check means any positive changes made can go towards demonstrating that your business is taking all reasonable steps to comply with the law.

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.