Transport laws move to reflect safety needs

FARMERS need to be aware of changes to heavy vehicle chain of responsibility laws but should not be alarmed by them, according to Grain Producers SA policy officer Shane Gale.

Mr Gale said the changes meant farmers would need to be more proactive about reducing risks related to road transport.

The changes coming into place from mid-2018 have been made to align the existing laws more closely with workplace health and safety provisions.

GPSA held meetings on the Eyre Peninsula last month, looking at transport issues in the region, which were also attended by representatives from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).

The meeting had good turn-outs, with more than 50 farmers attending the Minnipa meeting and 30-plus at Cummins.

“There was a lot of discussions around what growers had heard about the chain of responsibility laws,” he said.

“The NHVR representatives were keen to debunk any incorrect information and calm the nerves of rural and regional people, and I believe that was achieved.”

Mr Gale said there should not be unnecessary burdens put on farmers with the changes.

“The new laws are really looking for all people along the heavy road vehicle supply chain to be proactive,” he said.

“While farmers need to take more responsibility for heavy vehicles, this shouldn’t affect farmers who are already doing the right thing.”

According to the NHVR some of the changes that could relate to primary producers include:

  • Avoiding instructions or demands that may influence a driver to speed or drive when fatigued, whether in a written contract or verbally.
  • Ensuring stock loads are ready to load on time, so that a driver is not unduly delayed and pressured to speed or exceed fatigue hours.
  • Making sure there is a safe access to a property for any heavy vehicles.
  • Ensuring there is consultation with transporters and other parties along the supply chain when setting timeframes for pick-up and delivery.

NHVR operations manager Paul Simionato said most primary producers understood the role they played in supporting safe, reliable road transport to all road users, particularly heavy vehicles.

“Most are already doing the right thing so new laws may mean simply checking their existing safety systems and having a conversation with their transport providers,” he said.

“We've had a number of questions about the changes and these sessions were a chance to discuss scenarios and ensure primary producers continue to meet the chain of responsibility laws.”