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No excuse for Unsafe Loads – Unsafe loads cause accidents in the workplace and on the roads

No Excuse for Unsafe Loads
Every year loading and unloading accidents injure hundreds of people and cost businesses millions in damaged goods, damaged vehicles, road closures, journey delays, injuries and lost work time.

Accidents associated with vehicle use at work still accounts annually for almost half of all deaths reported to the Health and Safety Authority. Between 2006 and 2011 there were 509 reported incidents to the HSA that involved loading and unloading operations. Involving people struck by falling objects, falls from height or slips and trips. There were 12 load related deaths reported. A further 497 incidents resulted in reportable absence from work due to injury. By law, employers must have documented safe systems of work in place for loading, unloading, load securing and preventing loads falling off vehicles, in workplaces and on the road. Employers must have written procedures in place, based on a risk assessment, for:

• loading vehicles
• restraining loads on vehicles
• dealing with any loads have shifted and are in an unsafe condition
• unloading vehicles

Take these simple steps to keep your loads, vehicles, employees and contractors safe and protect your business.

Plan loading and unloading operations
Time spent planning and documenting your loading and unloading practices may prevent the problems a poorly planned and unsafe load can cause:

• provide a safe waiting area for drivers not involved in loading and unloading operations
• provide clear rules and instructions to employees on where to load and unload vehicles
• provide clear rules and instructions to employees and how to load and unload vehicles
• provide correct equipment to load and unload vehicles safely provide a loading plan for each journey – consider multi-drop loads
• communicate relevant information about each delivery site to drivers, including reporting arrangements, site rules, equipment and facilities

Implement Safe Loading procedures
Restraining loads securely and safely is crucial in preventing accidents in transit and during unloading:

• load to the headboard. if the load cannot be loaded to the headboard, use blockage or dunnage to fill the gap
• loads should not move in any direction in transit of the trailer never use curtains to secure a load.  Loads that shift in transit, may fall out when the curtain is opened
• lashings should not be secured to rope hooks webbing straps should be regularly checked for damage and wear and tear
• chains must be certified and in good condition

Plan Safe Routes and Journeys
In the course of any journey there is potential for loads to shift and become unstable which may affect the safe driving and stability of the vehicle. E.g. increase risk of vehicle overturning at bends, junctions or roundabouts.
• if a load does shift, it is vital that the driver feels under no pressure to continue the journey
provide clear instructions to the driver on who to contact for advice/assistance in the event of load shift on how to deal with the load, if continuing with their journey

Carry out Safe Unloading
Correctly restraining loads before the start of any journey is the best way to minimise the risks of falls and crush injuries during unloading. Employers should also:

• Avoid need for working at height to prevent
falls, wherever possible.
• Provide a plan to safely unload the vehicle
when load has shifted

Other things to think about
• Prevent falls from the vehicle cab or load bed
• before drivers set off, check that steps or handholds are in good condition.
• on refrigerated vehicles, check the floor for  ice or water and drivers should follow any instructions to reduce the amount of water.
• drivers should wear well-fitting, slip-resistant safety footwear when working on vehicles.
• keep the soles of safety footwear clean.all spills and dirt, such as diesel or mud on the catwalk or load area should be cleaned up immediately.
• keep the load area tidy – pick up loose
ropes and packaging.

Prevent hitting a pedestrian
• Restrict the loading area to workers involved in loading or unloading.
• Make sure signs, road markings, speed limits and one-way systems are being followed
• Remind drivers that they become pedestrians when they step out of the vehicle.
• Don’t let anyone guide a vehicle unless they are a trained banksman or signaller.

Prevent injury caused by poor manual handling
• Provide safe procedures for all goods and loads that are moved, loaded or unloaded.
• Provide instruction and training on how to safely lift and move loads
• Provide documented rules to employees on how to safely lift and move loads.
• Make sure that employees use the correct equipment to load and unload vehicles safely.
• Wear appropriate personal protective equipment

For more practical advice and FREE resources on safe load securing – Visit or call 1890 289 389


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