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Preventing Lorries From Shedding Their Load – And Potential Accident Injuries.

17th December 2013
Lorries shedding their loads are still not an infrequent risk, which can cause a major accident involving a number of vehicles with likely injury and subsequent accident compensation being claimed by drivers or their passengers.

A common example occurred on Merseyside in the early morning rush hour on September 2012, when a vehicle’s trailer became detached as the driver attempted to do a U-turn on Queen’s Drive, a dual-carriageway and major arterial route to and from the M62.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) state that more than 1,200 people suffer injuries as a result of unsafe loads causing vehicles to roll over, shedding their loads or general spillage. Both drivers and their employers can be prosecuted under injury claims as a result of accidents caused by improperly secured loads.

While there is generally a low fatality rate ( around 1.2 per cent) among HGV lorry drivers protected in today’s vehicle cabs, nevertheless the incidence of ‘load shift’ still accounted for most of the major accidents. Of the majority of incidents, which take place in the Midlands and in Scotland, 70 per cent occurred on motorways or ‘A’ roads, 50 per cent in the early morning (00:00 – 08:00 hours) and 40 per cent in the afternoon (12:00 – 18:00 hours).

Different loads on different vehicles will require different methods of securing one type of load as opposed to another type. Load restraint is not the same as load containment and some loads may require a combination of both. It is recommended that loads should be placed against the trailer headboard. If this is not possible for reasons of weight distribution, the gap to the headboard should be filled or an intermediate bulkhead could be used.

The curtains and the weather-protection structure of a curtain-sided vehicle are generally not suitable for load securing and friction alone should not be relied on as a method of load securing. Even very heavy loads may not remain in place under their own weight. Overstrapping the load has also been identified as the least-risk method for load restraint, however it would not be suitable for all types of load.

Load restraint measures involve the load being directly restrained from moving relative to the trailer bed or ensuring a ‘positive’ fit (blocking or locking) as a method by which the load is loaded so that it is in tight contact with part of the vehicle. Examples of load containment include the rigid sides of a box-sided vehicle, or sliding gates and side slats on a curtain-sided vehicle

Load containment measures aim to ensure that all or part of a load cannot be ejected from the vehicle. The planning of how secure the load is an important safety step as it helps to flag up issues before they become problems.

An employer and / or the person responsible for sending the load should present a fully written loading plan
each time as it is their responsible for ensuring that the load does not present a danger to others. It is important that the driver knows how the load has been secured, especially if he has not seen it loaded and this information should also be available to the delivery site.