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Why Safe Loading Matters. Really.

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During HGV driver training you will be taught a lot of things around health, safety and security. But one of the areas that will be focussed on is how to load and unload your HGV safely. Depending on what you’re driving and what your cargo is, this could be anything from how to lift a box correctly to what we’re talking about today – making sure oddly shaped loads are secured to your HGV properly. Safe loading is one of the most important elements of your safety training, and today we’re going to tell you why.

The Implications of Unsafe Loading

Heavy goods vehicles are essential to the health and growth of our economy – but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some inherent risks. For example, the fact that the vehicles themselves are several tonnes in weight before you add the weight of the load they are carrying makes them more dangerous on the roads than a standard car. They also often carry irregularly shaped or sized loads, often meaning they can’t fit into a standard container lorry and instead have to be tied to the back of a flatbed to be transported.

This is a big risk factor, and something the driver of the HGV is wholly responsible for. If the load isn’t secured properly there is a danger of it shifting and moving, which in turn changes the weight of the vehicle and can cause problems for the driver. The worst-case scenario for poor loading is that your HGV sheds its load completely while on the road, causing a lot of damage and a potentially devastating accident. In other words, making sure your vehicle is securely loaded really does matter!

The 3 Principles of Safe Loading

While you might think that loading your HGV is a complicated thing after reading that, in reality, a lot of it is just having the right knowledge and some common sense. To that end, there are 3 basic principles of safe loading that every HGV driver should know about and follow.

  • Principle 1 – The securing system you’re using need to be able to withstand the entire load weight forwards (in case of heavy raking), half the weight to the rear and to the sides (in case of unexpected lateral movements). This stops your load falling off in any direction and minimizes movement.

 

  • Principle 2 – Always use the structure of your trailer or vehicle to secure your goods. This might mean loading into a fully secured lorry box, or it may mean strapping it to the bulkhead or headboard. Any gaps between the anchor points need to be packed with pallets or similar materials to stop any undesired movement.

 

  • Principle 3 – Always use the correct restraints and lashes for the type of load you’re carrying. Some trailers will come with this equipment built-in, which makes securing loads easier. But often you’ll need to use netting, webbing, lashes or chains to secure the load, depending on what you’re transporting.

Lashing Techniques to Know

If you’re transporting a load that is open, you’re driving a flatbed HGV or anything that isn’t a sealed container load, you will need to do some work to secure the load before you set off. This is known as ‘lashing’, and requires you to tie and secure the load using ropes, chains or other materials. There are two main methods of lashing in use today, known as direct lashing and frictional lashing:

  • Direct lashing is mainly used for the loading of heavy machinery and plant equipment, with the lashes being used in opposing pairs.

 

  • Frictional lashing is the more common method, and it involves putting lashes over the load from one side of the vehicle or trailer to the other. The quantity of lashes used will depend on a lot of things, like the load weight, the rating of your lashings, load bed friction and how many tensioners you use.

No matter which method you use, the main thing to remember is that your lashing need to be as close to vertical as physically possible. With some loads, this will be easy but with others, it can be a real challenge, with some drivers needing to resort to putting pallets under or on top of the load to increase the angle and balance it out. And of course, you need to know which loads traditional lashings aren’t appropriate for – like when transporting sand, power or aggregates – in which case you would need to either switch to chains or consider using a container instead.

At The HGV Training Centre, we believe in a thorough approach to training. We don’t just teach you what to do when you’re behind the wheel, but instead cover every single aspect of your life as an HGV driver, making sure you know everything you need to for your success and the health and safety of others. If you would like to know more about our training programmes, just get in touch with us today.

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