Securing Vehicle Loads
by Gary Rowe, CEO, Safety Action
How often have you seen debris on the road and wondered how it got there, or more particularly, how come the driver couldn’t properly secure their load?
1. Load Restraint Regulations
Proper restraint of vehicle loads is a legal requirement, but many people appear to be casual about the safety of other road users and how they meet their obligations.
Each state has road transport regulations based on the National Transport Commission model regulations, which apply to heavy vehicles (above 4.5 tonne), but the principles outlined in this article apply to all vehicle and trailer loads.
Interestingly, for heavy vehicles multiple people can be fined for breaches including:
a) Driver of the vehicle;
b) Owner of the vehicle; and
c) Owner of the trailer.
2. Forces on Load Restraints
Have you ever tied down a load with a piece of rope? Chances are you did not know the load capacity of the rope, but luckily it was sufficient anyway.
The above diagram shows the forces that load restraints must be capable of sustaining while being transported. For example, if a container weighs 10 tonnes, then the restraint stopping the load sliding forward under heavy braking must be rated for at least 8 tonnes. Therefore, you would need at least four (4) fabric slings with safe load capacity of 2,500kg each.
3. Weight and Balance for Vehicle
Another important consideration is the weight of the load and its balance on the trailer or vehicle.
All vehicles have a load carrying limit, and also a limit on the towbar for trailers including maximum vertical load and towing load on the tow ball.
4. Strength of Restraints
Every piece of equipment used to restrain vehicle loads should have their safe load capacity clearly marked, so drivers can be sure they have applied sufficient restraints for their particular load.
5. Correct Positioning of Load Restraints
It is not sufficient to simply have strong restraints, they need to be correctly positioned so they cannot slip or cause the load tension to fail.
6. Over-Hang from Vehicle or Trailer
Typically, the limit for projections from the front or rear of a vehicle is 1.2m. Where a load projects further than 1.2m from the rear of the vehicle it must have a brightly coloured flag on each side at least 300mm long, and a red light if used at night.
Loads projecting on either side of the vehicle are not allowed to exceed 150mm, and total width of load and vehicle must not exceed 2.5m
7. Covers for Loose or Small Items
Where small items or loose material can fall or blow out, mesh or covers are required. For example, trucks carrying sand or soil must have tarpaulin covers.
For a copy of our Fact Sheet on Restraining Vehicle Loads, just call or email us.