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Supply Chain Safety & Compliance Summit tables key issues moving forward

Last week over 300 key industry figures gathered as part of the 2018 ALC & ATA Supply Chain Safety & Compliance Summit ahead of changes to the Chain of Responsibility (CoR) provisions in the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) on 1 October.

Key areas and issues for industry and governments were spotlighted to help bring industry participants up to speed in their pursuit of enhanced safety outcomes.

The industry-wide Master Code for heavy vehicle safety, developed as a joint project between ALC and the ATA, came under focus through panel discussions and interactive workshops in which Summit participants were encouraged to identify key areas of development to achieve better supply chain safety.

Initiatives to improve heavy vehicle safety were discussed by government figures, including Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Regional Development Michael McCormack and Luke Donnellan, Victoria Minister for Roads and Roads Safety.

Keynote addresses covered improving technology to promote positive safety culture in workplaces and for heavy vehicle operators as a way of protecting the physical and mental well-being of the dedicated professionals whose job it is to keep the heavy vehicle fleets moving.

After two days of discussions Summit attendees provided feedback from which a list of major issues were identified for further action.

These included:

-  End-to-end supply chain collaboration on safety is vital. More needs to be done to demonstrate that an effective approach to managing safety risks not only delivers better safety outcomes, but also greater efficiencies for operators and for customers.

-  The Master Code is relevant to all parts of the industry, including smaller operators. ALC and the ATA should continue working to demonstrate how the Master Code embodies a practical approach to the management of safety risks, which will help demystify many of these issues for smaller operators.

-  Increasing duplication throughout the auditing system for heavy vehicles is having a detrimental impact and must be addressed. Industry, customers and the wider community will be better served by a system that is less focussed on ‘box ticking’, and instead does more to embrace the practical, real-world experience of drivers in managing safety risks.

-  Jurisdictional inconsistencies in the enforcement of CoR and the HVNL remain a significant frustration.Leading industry bodies such as ALC and the ATA should lead efforts to ensure compliance authorities understand how consignors and consignees are managing risks – and ensure those efforts are being recognised when it comes to enforcement.

-  Executive level recognition of the importance of CoR will drive better safety. When a company’s leadership shows they ‘get it’, it drives cultural change throughout an organisation. ALC and the ATA can play a role in helping executives understand that demonstrating compliance with their safety obligations is not merely a legal requirement, but offers tangible business benefits.

-  Statistics on heavy vehicle safety need to be presented more effectively. The tendency to assume that the heavy vehicle is at fault in every incident has a bearing on the industry’s social licence. Industry should work with authorities to ensure the statistics present a more accurate picture, and develop strategies to ensure passenger vehicles share the road with heavy vehicles more safely.

-  There needs to be far more honest conversation about mental health in the industry. Driving is a solitary activity that necessitates a lot of time away from homes and families. Industry organisations need to work collaboratively on initiatives that remove the stigma around talking about mental health challenges. Developing programs that equip the industry’s workforce with tools needed to deal with mental health issues effectively must be a top priority.

-  Improving technology should be embraced by all in the effort to save lives on our roads. This includes promoting much greater uptake of telematics, in-vehicle cameras and the development of consistent data standards that will promote enhanced safety right though the supply chain, assist with business management and promote better infrastructure investment (including rest stops).

“Through our respective policy and advocacy activities, ALC and the ATA will work to promote the development of practical solutions to the challenges identified – and will work to build on the collaborative spirit that was a hallmark of this Summit,” the ATA and ALC said in a joint statement.

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