Secure and safe loads are vital for the trucking industry and ensure an operator is getting load management right, is following the correct procedures and is using the correct equipment.
The field of load restraint has become more complex in the last couple of years. First there was the revamp of the Load Restraint Guide, which cleared up some anomalies and made the load restraint guidelines easier to follow and more clearcut. This was followed by a major reform of the Chain of Responsibility law, making it clear the consignor and transport operator have to demonstrate they use best practice load restraint to comply with the rules.
The basic principles behind load restraint are simple, but complicated to get right. There is a need to understand the load itself, the surface it is sitting on and the specifications of the equipment used to hold and secure the load in place.
The Load Restraint Guide sets out the performance standards required. Any load needs to have a force equal to 80 per cent of the load holding it back when braking. It also needs a force equal to 50 per cent of the load holding it from moving side-to-side when cornering. The same force is needed to stop rearward movement. There is also a requirement for a force at 20 per cent of load weight to hold the freight down, if the friction between the floor and the load is being used in the load restraint calculation.
The load should be secure on the truck and not move under normal driving conditions. If it is secured to meet the standards it will not fall off or affect the stability of the vehicle under expected driving conditions. Importantly, this includes emergency braking and minor collisions.
Anyone involved in packing, loading, moving or unloading a vehicle, is deemed to be responsible for complying with load restraint laws. The load must stay securely on the vehicle under normal driving conditions and if it comes off, this is regarded as evidence the loader/operator has breached the law.
Not only are the load restraint rules laid out in the guide, but the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) has specific chain of responsibility provisions that relate to packing, loading and load restraint requirements and these are relevant to the entire transport supply chain.
Anyone involved, person or company, who can control or influence transport activities, including packing, loading or restraining a load, must ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the safety of transport activities, including implementing safe systems and practices that remove risks and prevent any HVNL breaches.
Reasonable actions have to be taken to identify, assess, control, monitor, review and remedy potentially unsafe situations or situations that could result in loading or load restraint breaches. It is incumbent upon those involved to choose the restraint method that is most suitable given the load and vehicle. It is also important to make sure that all equipment used in packing, loading and load restraint is serviceable and regularly maintained. This process must also be recorded.
Talking about restraint equipment, the Load Restraint Guide tells us, “If there is any doubt about their reliability and safety, do not use them for the trip. Instead, replace them with equipment in good condition.”