Policy Procedures – Chain of Responsibility

We have seen many examples of Policies and Procedures over the years.  Ranging enormously in terms of quality and content.  For example:

  • Company “A”, completed a Gap Analysis of their Chain of Responsibility and were told they had 140 fail points within their system, they were duly horrified.   The Board decided to get expert help in fixing the problem. They engaged their company lawyers to write Policies & Procedures for Chain of Responsibility . Some months later the P&P’s were complete, all 140 of them. The Policies & Procedures although legally exact, did not reflect the actual operation and were written in a way that the average person could not understand.  In summary, useless in the operation and in fact a similar case for an SA company was prosecuted for similar issues.
  • Company “B”, needed Policies & Procedures and the operations guy had a mate who had set it up in his business. He borrowed the material, changed the logo, business name and address and put it up as their own. All the sections were there and it looked good, but again was useless for the business as it did not reflect his business in any way shape or form.
  • Company “C” set up their own, and used their in house OH&S person to write them. They were concise and reflected the business, however, there was no “How to” it was all about who is accountable for what.


So looking at the above cases, how are your Policies & Procedures, will they fulfill what they should be doing?

Definition of Policies & Procedures


Initially let me clarify what the two components of a Policy & Procedure are:


The definition of a Policy is:

A course of action, guiding principle, considered expedient, prudent, or advantageous”

Basically WHAT you intend to do


The definition of a Procedure is:

A fixed, step-by-step sequence of activities or actions (with definite start and end points) that must be followed in the same order to correctly perform a task.

Basically HOW you will do it


With the advent of major cooking shows on TV a cooking example is quite good to explain a Policy & Procedure. If you think of the “name” of the cake with its brief description as the Policy. Then all the ingredients, by actual weight and volume, all the equipment you will need to make it happen. Then the detailed instructions of what to mix when and how to mix it and what consistency. What size baking tin to use and how to line it, oven temperature and time, how to test it to see if it’s finished. Then to top it off a picture of what it should look like when complete. Basically it’s a clear set of instructions with KPI’s that can be picked up by another person who has never see the recipe before and they can produce a comparable item. Could the same be said for your Policies & Procedures.

Five Key Points for Policies & Procedures


Therefore when developing Policies & Procedures there are 5 areas which we need to focus on to prevent major pitfalls:

  1. Level of Detail: The Policy & Procedures themselves, to what level of detail should they get to? If the Policy & Procedures fail to have enough detail, then their impact may be too loose and not cover the legislation effectively. If they are too big then they become a voluminous epistle that is never read let alone used.
  2. How Prescriptive: Risk of making the Policies & Procedures to specific and restrictive which means that if a situation deviates from what we have prescribed then workers will become paralysed as they will not be able to make decisions on how to handle a situation. This may lead to the logistics function not occurring, but more likely that the function will be executed in an uncontrolled manner leaving the company exposed under Chain of Responsibility.
  3. Scope of Coverage: Not taking into account all the relevant groups. Under new legislation a person engaged to complete a task on a site (including a truck) will be deemed as a “worker”, regardless of how they are engaged, be they a direct employee, a subcontractor, through a labour hire agency, via a 3rd or 4th party.
  4. Intent vs Action: Policy & Procedures of intent not action; this habit is common with many companies and they develop Policy & Procedures that looks great on the bookshelf and has significant version control and indexing but in reality bears no resemblance to what actually happens within the business. This means staff will continue to complete tasks in the same way they always have and pay no attention to the company Policy & Procedures.
  5. Your Own:  Copying a Policy & Procedures system from a “mate” or elsewhere in a business group, completing a “search and replace” on the business name and logos, and they have instant Policy & Procedures for their business.
  6. Simplicity and Understandable:  During audits we have often seen volume after volume of Policy & Procedures that are; over complicated, copied or rewritten and become a compliance hindrance to the business and often costly to prepare and repair. Basic rules – “Keep it simple – Reflect the action”


 Preparing effective Policy & Procedures

A few golden rules for Policy & Procedures: 

  1. Know how your business “actually” works before you start. We are not looking for what should happen more what the business is really doing, so don’t get the manager to write this, get the front line operators to do it.
  2. You must be able to “map” your business processes so that they can be followed by a “trained monkey” in the event that the normal operator is unavailable at short notice.
  3. Compare your actual processes to the C&E/CoR regulations and see where the holes are.
  4. Fix up the holes in your business.
  5. Write concise P&P to cover what you actually do.
  6. Train “workers” on the actual application of Policy & Procedures.
  7. Supervise or validate that they actually do the work as per the Policy & Procedures.

DO NOT get dragged in to developing a complicated Policy & Procedures system: KEEP IT SIMPLE, KEEP IT LEGAL


Bear in mind that regardless of how fantastic the bookshelf system looks, if authorities embark on an investigation due to offences they will not care about what the Policy & Procedures says, what they will be looking for is what actually happened leading up to the offence. If the Policy & Procedures you have developed are not capable of controlling the compliance issues then they will be immediately discounted.


Procedure Steps Who Should do it
  • Review your methods at the operational level, find out what you “really do”
  • Operation level staff
  • Map them out in simple process pictures, don’t go overboard on the words
  • Operation level staff
  • Make sure you have got it down right by asking drivers and operational staff to review them
  • Drivers, Forklift, Leading hands etc.
  • Compare what you do  to what is required under the legislation
  • Advisors
  • Modify what you really do to make sure its legal
  • Operations/Advisors
  • Write your Procedure in simple terms and use diagrams and pictures rather than big words
  • Operations
  • Get drivers and operational staff to review it
  • Drivers, Forklift, Leading hands etc.
  • Finalise your procedure
  • Operations/Advisors
  • Now generate your Policy from your procedure
  • Operations/ Management
  • Write your Policy and publish it.
  • Operations/ Management
Now the BIG step!
  • Train everyone how to use and apply the Policy& Procedure
  • Operations/HR



You now have a Policy & Procedure that actually works at an operational level and not a beautiful looking but operationally useless document. The above sequence may well be contrary to most people’s thinking as it starts from the bottom up.

The reason is logical, it gets the operational level personnel involved and contributing to what they will need to apply in their day to day operation and the process is written from what “actually happens” not a theory of “what should happen”.


In summary if you are NOT comfortable in getting to this level of accuracy with your Policy & Procedures, get some help, it will be cheaper and quicker in the long run.


Reasonable Steps Defence and Policy & Procedures

The most common question I get asked with the Chain of Responsibility  legislation is “can you give me a list of Reasonable Steps that I can follow. Of the course the answer is “No” it all depends what is reasonable at the time. Policies & Procedures as mentioned above are heavily tied into “Reasonable Steps”. As such I will try to answer the “Reasonable Steps” question through Policies & Procedures.


Having said that the “procedure” the how to, we continually see procedures that are so vague the person who they apply to would have no idea in how to apply them. So here are some tips; always start from the right end and work backwards! That is start at the end point (e.g. Truck or Dock) and work backwards to the office.


When talking Reasonable Steps you need to remember that although good Policies & Procedures go a long way to keep you compliant, it is still a matter of how those Policies & Procedures are implemented that really makes up Reasonable Steps. With that in mind follow the logic process below in getting your Policy & Procedures in place:


  1. Policy – Develop a Policy that all in the organisation have “buy-in” .
  2. Procedure – Develop Procedures that are like a cake recipe.
  3. Training – Train all those affected not only in the technical aspects of what they cover but also what the procedure is.
  4. Implement – Make sure that the P&P is fully implemented and not just sitting on a shelf .
  5. Application – Check back in the workplace to ensure that the P&P is actually being applied and not ignored.
  6. Continuous Improvement – go back to #1 and fine tune all points in this list.

Daunting task so far you would agree, so how do you simplify this? There is a very quick way to simplify all the Policies & Procedures and how they convert into Reasonable Steps.

The answer is easy…… Codes of Practice!

There are several codes of practice for many sectors of industry and many in the pipe line. The benefit of being part of a Code of Practice is twofold:

  1. You do not have to reinvent the wheel, all the framework has been done and you merely need to fill in the relevant company specific content.
  2. Safety in Numbers – if your business is one of many who do things in a certain way, then this could be taken as a Reasonable Step.

In summary, a Reasonable Step, is what was appropriate on the day, and did the business and its workers do as much as they could to predict and prevent a breach of road law.





For more details on Policies & Procedures, Reasonable Steps & Codes of Practice contact mike@latus.com.au

or call 1300 008 386


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Mike Wood

Mike Wood, Managing Director – LATUS: Logistic Risk Specialists Mike Wood is the recognised Australian Specialist on Chain of Responsibility Legislation and its Impacts upon the Logistic Industry. Since 2003, Mike has been heavily involved in Chain of Responsibility (known as Compliance and Enforcement in Western Australia). Mike is frequently interviewed or comment sort by Australian Media outlets, as well as providing expert witness testimony in legal proceedings. Most recently engaged by the Western Australian Government to help educate WA businesses on the new Compliance and Enforcement legislation and its impacts on them. Mike regularly advises Governments and Business across South East Asia and Australia on Logistic Issues, and was particularly involved in the Chain of Responsibility legislation, and codes of practice. Mike’s expertise extends to multiple facets of the Supply Chain, having undertaken projects such as, Integrated Logistic Chain Design, Australian Disaster Management Response Logistics, Coal Chain designs, Port operation & infrastructure, Logging Operation design, Sugar production, livestock movements, logging etc.

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