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Loading and Unloading Goods Vehicles Safely

8 August 2022

For many businesses, loading and unloading lorries is a daily duty, and it can come with risks of workplace injuries. As well as this, if a load isn’t securely properly and goods fall from a lorry, it could be catastrophic to the point where a road accident is caused. In mind of this, safe loading and unloading of vehicles, as well as following the DVSA guidelines on load securing, is crucial to both protecting HGV drivers and other road users.

In this guide, we’ll discuss everything from the most common types of loads to best practices for safe loading and unloading of vehicles.

The Importance of Load Securing

In 2013, 22,000 road collisions occurred in England due to objects falling from vehicles. Accidents caused by inadequately secured loads can result in traffic jams, injuries to the lorry driver and other road users, damage to infrastructure, and damage to the goods being transported. Therefore, all HGV drivers should regard load securing as one of their primary concerns. Correct and efficient load securing stops goods from falling onto roads, and it also reduces the risk of putting the driver and other road users in danger. Not only that, but it also saves money by ensuring goods arrive at their destination undamaged.

Best Practices for Safe Loading and Unloading of Vehicles

The correct loading and unloading rules that drivers must follow will depend on the type of vehicle they’re driving. But in general, HGV drivers should take into account the following when loading and unloading their vehicle:

  • Is the vehicle appropriate for the type of load you’re transporting? 
  • Are the loading and unloading areas clear of other traffic, pedestrians and individuals not involved in the process?
  • Have you made sure the lorry is parked firmly and evenly on the ground to reduce the risk of the vehicle moving or tipping?
  • Have the vehicle’s brakes been applied, and all stabilisers used, so the vehicle is as stable as possible?
  • Have you made sure the vehicle hasn’t been overloaded so it doesn’t become unstable, difficult to steer or less able to brake?
  • Have the correct securing methods been used? 
  • Has a suitable load restraint been used? 
  • Have you loaded the cargo in a way that allows for safe unloading? Do you have the right knowledge and tools to correct a load if it moves mid-transport? 
  • Has the load been spread out as evenly as possible (uneven loads can make the vehicle unstable)?

If you require further information, the DVSA has produced a video which gives an overview of the basics on how to safely secure loads.

Who is Responsible for Loading and Unloading Vehicles?

Transport Operators (fleet managers) and HGV drivers have a joint responsibility for the safe loading and unloading of vehicles, and both must receive appropriate training. At Driver Hire Training, our Safe Loading & Unloading of Goods Vehicles module will ensure HGV drivers have detailed understanding of the risks associated with loading and unloading, best practices to follow, as well as responsibilities on the road. Whilst undergoing training, drivers must be supervised when loading and unloading lorries, until fully trained.

The DVSA also advises that the haulier and delivery site communicate with each other to set out a loading and unloading plan. With clear guidelines on who’s responsible for each phase of the loading and unloading process, and what the haulier can expect at the delivery site, it makes the process more streamlined and safer for all involved.

The Most Common Types of Loads

Depending on the industry, HGV drivers can expect to handle one or more of the following types of loads:

Load Securing Solutions

When it comes to securing a load, there are multiple ways to do so, and all depend on various factors. For example, the type of load, the securing equipment at hand and so on.

Before securing a load, HGV drivers must make sure to check the appropriate load securing solution is working properly. Damaged equipment must be reported immediately, and it’s also advised that spare securing equipment be always kept in the vehicle.

The most common load securing solutions are the following:

  • Lashings 
  • Rope hooks
  • Friction mats
  • Box pushers 
  • Kites
  • Edge protectors 
  • Sails 

All fleet managers must make sure their drivers are fully trained to load and unload their vehicles in the correct, efficient and safe manner. This will ensure your customers receive quality service, and it’ll also keep HGV drivers and other road users safe.

If you’d like to talk to us more about how we can help you get started with Safe Loading & Unloading of Goods Vehicles training, call us on 0808 178 9977 or chat to one of our agents right now.