Every year more than 1200 people are injured in the UK and millions of pounds are lost because goods are damaged as a result of unstable loads toppling over while in transit. Plus according during recent spot checks on commercial vehicles pulled over randomly, nearly 80 per cent of loads were found not to be sufficiently restrained. Drivers and businesses carrying unsafe loads can face fines or even have their vehicle ordered off the road.
Lee Wright, Marketing Director of Slingsby, which supplies more than 35,000 workplace products including a wide range of load safety equipment, says: "All too often you see vans and trucks driving around carrying loads that are clearly unstable or insecure, simply to save a few minutes or to avoid having to make another journey.
"The risks posed by unstable loads are endless because once a vehicle is out on the road it's almost impossible to predict what could occur if an unstable load topples over. Even lightweight loads can become dangerous if paper, or other similar materials, are not secure and end up in the road."
As a result Slingsby has compiled the checklist below that all drivers should follow to ensure they load vehicles safely:-
- A load doesn't necessarily have to fall over to become a major hazard. A load simply moving from side to side inside a trailer can cause the vehicle to overturn and in severe cases it could injure the driver if it suddenly moves forwards and ends up in the cab.
- When loading a vehicle, the load should be pushed right up to the front headboard or bulkhead without leaving a gap to prevent the load moving forwards when the vehicle brakes.
- If this isn't possible because of the way the load is distributed, fill the gap between the edge of the load and the headboard with blocking or use an intermediate bulkhead that is strong enough to prevent the load moving.
- You should always consider the distribution of weight on the vehicles axles.
- When it comes to securing a load there isn't one solution that works for every type of load. Deciding how to secure a load all depends on the individual vehicle and what the load consists of.
- Start by restraining and containing the load by tying goods to the load bed and making sure they can't move around. This should be done using chains or lashings that are attached directly to the vehicle.
- Check that the load restraint equipment is marked with a load weight and that it is sufficient for the load being carried.
- Lashings should be checked regularly for damage because even a small tear can significantly reduce the strength of the strap.
- You should also check the load at regular intervals during the journey and after heavy braking or sudden changes in direction, provided it is safe to do so.
- A load should meet the minimum requirements of the Department for Transport's Code of Practice. This states the combined strength of the load restraint system must be able to withstand at least the total weight of the load moving forwards and half the weight of the load moving backwards and sideways. Further information on this is available at www.dft.gov.uk
Finally Lee adds: "Even if an unstable load doesn't cause an accident, they can regularly create a major inconvenience, waste time and take longer to unload when the vehicle arrives at its destination so failing to secure a load really is false economy."