Our world depends on transport. We see it as absolutely normal to buy something on-line at 9 o’clock at night and expected to be on our front door step at 9 in the morning. It is highly unexpected and unusual to walk into a supermarket or any other shop and not be able to find the product we are looking for.
Transport businesses are thriving. Road haulage and warehousing companies have developed and improved their systems in order to make them reliable and trying to keep up with the rising demand of the last twenty or so years. When goods, food and drink or raw materials are not coming from abroad, or as a way to get to their final destination, lorries and driving are the most common and convenient way of transportation. Driving is essential, which automatically adds some more possible hazards to the whole process.
Of all industry sectors, road haulage and warehousing have one of the highest injury rates. For many otherwise low-risk companies, when it comes to loading and unloading goods to and from vehicles, these automatically become their most dangerous activities of the whole production process. Every year there are significant number of accidents involving loading and unloading with a considerable cost for the industry. The most common reasons for accidents are : struck by a vehicle ( often a forklift), falls from height, struck by a falling object and slips and trips.
It is simple and quite straightforward if a load is not properly secured on the vehicle it doesn’t matter how carefully it is driven, the goods would move and could provoke serious accident. Goods falling from a lorry on the motorway, shifting loads smashing through the bulkhead into the cab, unstable loads collapsing during unloading are some of the risks with possible fatal outcomes.
The legislation regulating safety of loads on vehicles and how goods need to be handled during transportation is made clear in the Road Traffic Act (section 40) and the Road Vehicles Construction and Use Regulations (regulation 100). The employer and the self-employed have obligations under the HSWA 1974 to ensure to reduce the risk to the employees and the public insuring to provide them with the correct training, information and use the appropriate equipment to carry on the job safely. Further guidance on how to comply with specific road regulations can be found at the Department of Transport “Safety of loads on vehicles”.
safety of loads on vehicles
It is a wide-spread misconception that the driver is the only one responsible for the safety of loads on vehicles. There is a difference in the degree of responsibility if the driver is loading and securing the load at their own premises and if they just pick up the loaded and secured vehicle from a distribution centre. Whoever is in charge of securing the load and the vehicle there are three basic elements to have in mind, if to be done correctly:
- the structure of the vehicle ( headboard, side walls, side posts)
- chocks, cradles, blockings etc.
- lashings ( webbing straps, chains, wire rope, rated securing nets)
The structure of the vehicle must be capable of withstanding the force of the entire load in the forward direction and half the weight of the load to the sides and rear. Positive fit - the process of packing out a box sided vehicle, and loading to the headboard are simple ways to ensure the load is not moving, while the vehicle is driven. It is easier to prevent the load from moving, than try to catch it, once is sliding and flying all around the place. You should bear in mind that the headboard is the last defence for the driver against load ingression into the cabin. When it is not possible to load the headboard, appropriate blocking should be put in place or building a bulkhead in front of the load.
chocks, cradles and blocking are used if there are gaps in the load, or if it is likely to roll and topple.
when it comes to safety of loads on vehicles the webbing straps are the most popular choice of lashings. You should be careful when using them to secure the load, as they are highly vulnerable to the weather conditions and cuts and abrasions from rough surfaces, these should always be used with special attention to detail and remember to look for signs of deterioration.
There are three main types of lashings methods: frictional, which would go from one side of the vehicle to the other and over the load; the most common way of frictional lashing are that the straps should be as close to vertical to the bed load, as possible; if needed, when the strap angle is very shallow additional empty pallets could be stacked on top of the load.
Direct lashing is when the straps have an attachment points on the vehicle and on the load and loop or belly lashing, where the lashing goes around the load.
When conducting a risk assessment for a load that should be transported from one place to another, you should think about the type of load is going to be carried ( if there are any dangerous substances, food or drink, goods, etc. ) , these should be placed in such a way that it doesn’t move during transportation and try to facilitate the unloading, without creating situations where unloading would involve working at height, however if such risks could not be avoided try to make sure to take the appropriate safety measures.
If you would like any help or advice on this or any other health and safety matter please feel free to contact us using the form below.
Contributed by one of our health and safety consultants in Birmingham