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An Unsecured Load Is An Accident Claim Waiting To Topple Over!

17th December 2013
Unsafe loads on vehicles injure more than 1,200 people a year, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Accident claims are still regularly entered for serious injuries caused at delivery points where an unsecured load has shifted inside a trailer in transit and one or more boxes fall out when doors are opened or tarpaulins untied on to lorry drivers or others involved with unloading goods.

The corner or edge of light cardboard cartons flying forward can still inflict a bruising blow to the face or a potentially much worse injury to the eye.

In several instances, reports of lorries shedding their loads on the road or turning over and causing a serious or fatal injuries can be traced to a shifting load or an inadequate loading plan.

Strapping and anchor points...

Safety strapping, webbing or ropes can become worn or become detached and anchor points can break off after a period of sustained heavy use. The issues is likely not to be reported or checked and drivers, under pressure to keep to a schedule of tight delivery slots, will simply carry on securing their loads the best they can.

In many instances, smaller boxes, bits of wood, rolled up cardboard, bubblewrap or blankets are used to try and wedge the loads tight against the sides of the lorry. Yet time and time again, movement and vibration from the rigours of a long journey involving numerous hard turning manoeuvres and braking cause the makeshift wedges to work lose.

Mind that gap...

One of the most common problems caused by heavy braking is if there is a gap between the load and the headboard of if the loads are higher than the headboard. Almost invariably, the load will shift forward under braking and a heavy thud will be heard in the cab, just behind the driver’s seat.

In worst case scenarios, where vehicles are transporting an extremely heavy load, which shifts forward or to one side, the entire lorry may become unstable and overturn. HGVs, in particular have a high risk of overturning because of a higher centre of gravity.

Loading plan...

Even experienced drivers may overlook a broken strap or try to use an alternative. While most HGV cargoes are shrink wrapped to pallets and loaded with forklift trucks, there are still numerous transit, double wheel base and Luton vans operating on the road where consignments in cardboard boxes are manually loaded. It’s vital to spend time spent to think about a safe loading procedure on every delivery.

The basic requirements are correct loading / unloading equipment ( including onboard ramps) and a proven method plan of securing the loads.

Between 2011 and 2012, RIDDOR reported a total of 205 accidents involving moving vehicles. The three specified occupations with the highest number of vehicle injuries were elementary storage occupations (530 non-fatal injuries) refuse and salvage occupations (93) and large goods vehicle drivers (91).