New guidance provided to improve livestock transport safety

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) has released new regulatory advice to improve safety across Australia’s livestock transport sector. The advice provides information that assists the livestock industry with:

  • Clarifying who within the livestock industry is a party in the chain of responsibility and what they need to do to meet their HVNL obligations.
  • Understanding the risks associated with livestock transport activities.
  • Identifying how collaboration between chain of responsibility parties can help manage risks.
  • Understanding what each chain of responsibility party should do to manage risks.
  • Ensuring that each party is doing everything reasonably practicable to maintain safety.

In contrast to other transport sectors, the advice noted the livestock industry is not always as formal, with many agreements for transporting livestock taking place on an ad-hoc basis.

The livestock industry is a unique and diverse operating environment where parties are performing multiple functions in challenging and sometimes difficult circumstances.

“Additional requirements such as cleaning stock crates of effluent for biosecurity, animal welfare, and road safety can put further pressure on drivers, with queueing for wash bays causing excessive delays that impact driver fatigue and management of their work and rest,” the advice said.

“The correct preparation, safe transport, loading, unloading and management of livestock during transport requires collaboration between multiple parties – each providing services or workers with particular skills.”

The livestock industry is complex and has a number of parties, such as stock agents, facility owners or managers, and primary producers whose functions are captured by the HVNL.

In some cases, the advice said these parties and their responsibilities are unique to livestock transport, and they may not be aware their actions (or inactions) impact the safety of heavy vehicles on the road.

“Each one of these parties can influence the safety of livestock transport, so collaboration and co-operation is essential to improving safety. Chain of responsibility parties breach their primary duty by failing to do everything reasonably practicable to ensure livestock transport safety.”

Unlike other sectors, the livestock industry isn’t always formalised, with many agreements for transporting livestock taking place on an ad-hoc basis, said NHVR chief safety and productivity officer, David Hourigan.

“It’s a dynamic industry, with scheduling often dictated by immediate needs like upcoming sales or abattoir scheduling,” he said.

“There are additional challenges, like the need for thorough cleaning of stock crates, which not only affects biosecurity and animal welfare but can also contribute to significant delays for drivers, impacting their rest and overall fatigue management.”

Hourigan said the new regulatory advice aims to bridge these gaps and ensure all parties, from primary producers to transport operators to facility owners to stock agents, understand their responsibilities.