Even some of the most experienced companies who specialise in haulage work often seem a little unsure about the rules (and laws) relating to load securing. |
If you think this is largely a question of red tape, then think again. The official figures for 2013 show that there were a staggering 22,000 cases that year of items falling from commercial vehicles, with resulting lane or entire road closures.
A PR and Potential Human Disaster
Every time a vehicle sheds its load (or part of it) there is a commensurate hit on the reputation and professional credibility of our industry. Far more seriously, of course, there may be a very real risk of injury and even death for other road users as a result. Then there are all the consequences for the driver and company concerned if the police decide to take action.
Now it’s perfectly true that the vast majority of drivers in haulage work are meticulous in ensuring that their loads are well secured. However, the shocking figures cited above indicate that there is huge scope for improvement. Further reinforcing this is the equally unpleasant fact that the DVLA issued over 2,000 vehicle prohibitions in 2013 for dangerous load securing.
In past generations, load securing was often a skill learned by experience and training. A few chains, some dunnage and all would be well. However, on today’s crowded roads, a more systematic approach is required, which is why the government has produced an excellent guide on load securing rules. You can find this guide on the government’s own website.
The Key Points
Clearly, there’s no point simply replicating the guidelines here. However, it is worth highlighting a few of the key concepts with an emphasis on drivers:
• Take your responsibilities seriously. This isn’t someone else’s job. If you’re the driver, then the buck stops with you - even though other parties (such as loading bays) have legal responsibilities too.
Note that the police and legal systems aren’t known for readily accepting excuses like blaming the loading point. They’re not taking the vehicle on the road – YOU are! Even if you’re in a solo tractor unit collecting a pre-loaded trailer, make sure you’re entirely happy with how the load has been secured. If you’re not happy, then don’t shift it until you are. • Use the right vehicle for the load. Selecting one that’s too small or which lacks the appropriate securing points is a disaster waiting to happen.
• Secure the load against the headboard if humanly possible.
• Learn the science of securing. This involves a bit of school-level physics to understand things like static and dynamic forces and centre of gravity considerations – it’s not rocket science. If you don’t understand these things in haulage work, then you’ll struggle to understand the safest way to secure certain types of load.
• Use appropriate tethers and securing systems. A couple of bits of old rope just won’t do the trick.
• Don’t be pressurised by ‘the office’ or ‘the boss’ into cutting corners here. Time constraints should never be a consideration in terms of making sure a load is secure.
These are just a few key points from a much wider discussion documented on the government’s site.
If you’re a professional in haulage work - be that a driver, office manager, load planner or loading bay supervisor - you should make sure you’re very familiar with the document in detail. Be sure to look it up!
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage work with available drivers. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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