May 17, 2024

CoR: The three big big things that every General Contractor must know

It’s been 2 years since the updated Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) went live and everyone in construction can agree, including the lawyers, that there is now no excuse not to be adhering. Most of us know by now that we need to be doing something, the problem is most of us are stuck on how to do it.

In addition, we are all starting to see the push from developers and major infrastructure projects like the Sydney Metro requiring General Contractors to show policies & procedures, assurances in contracts, and compliance reporting as key parts of their tendering submissions. For the General Contractor, it’s no longer just the risk of safety it's now also the risk of losing deals.

The three big big things that every General Contractor must know: 

1. Chain of Responsibility (COR) now applies to you as a “receiving party” - Many General Contractors assume COR only applies to their suppliers or subbies that are delivering goods - “It’s their problem” being the common response. With the new COR legislation, you as the “Receiver” now need to show proactive measures to ensure you are communicating safe work practices to your suppliers and subsequently the drivers and all parties associated with the safe packing and delivery. 

COR management for a receiver doesn’t just start when a truck arrives and departs your delivery gate, it starts from when you make the order and direct suppliers to your site. Everyone on a GC’s site now is part of COR, from the builders crane crew to the directors of the company, with all parties legally liable for any incidents that may occur to a truck and its driver while in transit and on site.

2. Deciding where you draw the line is critical - COR compliance systems have been a standard process for suppliers and trucking companies for many years, whereby they track driver hours, breaks, vehicle speeds, routing and so on. But as a general contractor, do you also need to have this level of detail now? Because if you do, you might as well be a logistics company as well as a general contractor. 

From what we have seen your responsibility as the general contractor is that you should only be verifying that the suppliers have the appropriate processes in place, rather than tracking the granular detail of those processes. For example, if you are getting the information of a driver's breaks, and total hours on the road in real-time, then you may inadvertently be starting to take on responsibility for the drivers schedule, even though you are just ordering material that may be one stop on a driver's overall schedule. 

We are starting to see general contractors requesting subcontractors and suppliers to provide COR management plans in the contract sign off stage outlining their COR management processes, and then have them complete “pre-delivery checklists” confirming they have followed the steps of the COR management plan prior to the delivery departing for your site.  This process should cover the responsibilities of a general contractor with regards to COR management of its supply chain.

3. COR management is not just about how you “receive materials” from suppliers - when you backload material onto a truck at your site, you are now also legally responsible for the safe loading and travel of the truck and driver to their destination. Ensuring your forklift operator, crane crews, traffic controllers and anyone else managing materials handling are adequately trained is crucial. 

Having a clear process for verifying loads have been safely strapped down, and that the vehicle and driver is suitable to depart your site safely, is the other side of the COR process that General Contractors need to ensure is clearly documented. A GC’s COR responsibility starts when a truck departs for your site, and when they safely arrive at their next destination.

So there are a few things you need to know about chain of responsibility but how do you put them into practice as a General Contractor? 

  1. Review the COR legislation with your internal legal department to develop an initial draft framework, but more importantly this should be fine tuned and developed together with the Safety Managers and Site Managers who implement these processes on a day to day basis on site. Too often we see plans get pushed on to site teams, that are completely impractical and do no work in practice.
  2. Once a company wide COR framework is developed, enforce “COR Management Plans” as a mandatory requirement in all your supply chain contracts. Suppliers are to outline what controls they have in place, and this should align with the criteria set out by the company COR framework. This makes all expectations clear prior to work starting.
  3. Train all key stakeholders from the site team (Foreman, Subcontractor supervisors, Forklift Operators, Crane riggers etc) on the COR expectations and documentation processes.
  4. Seamlessly integrate your COR processes into standard daily workflows, to minimise disruption and ensure steps don’t get missed (the Veyor logistics platform will help you achieve this).
  5. Enforce the COR process from Day 1. Once the project gets too busy, it will be far more difficult to put this in play. Set expectations and the norm for the site from Day 1.

Does the above process sound like a massive pain? Unfortunately, it's a real risk to your business if you don’t take it seriously. At Veyor, we can provide a customisable COR solution for general contractors, with our logistics management software system also having an integrated COR management system. The above process can be made far less painful if it's digitised in an easy to use mobile application that ties in seamlessly with standard daily workflows. Luckily for GC’s everywhere, we’ve developed a tool that helps you manage this process easily, and automates your compliance and reporting processes. Click here for more information.

You're not alone in your COR journey, you can book in a free 30 minute consultation to see how we can help.

*We are not authorised to provide legal advice. This information is intended to be general in nature and it does not constitute legal advice in any way.  You should consult your own legal professional should you wish to confirm legal frameworks and your requirements under law.