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November 21, 2022

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Why trained drivers keep loads safe on the roads

SHP hears from Laura Nelson, Managing Director at RTITB, on load training and safety for drivers on the road…

Loads that are not properly secured cause tens of thousands of road incidents each year in the UK. For the most part, these are completely preventable, so why do they continue to occur? And what can managers and LGV/HGV drivers do to better tackle the issue of load safety?

Safety begins with training
In spite of the real possibility that an incident could occur during loading or unloading a vehicle, its impact on safety can be overlooked. It is such a routine part of an LGV/HGV driver’s job that sometimes they become complacent. Even managers who are on board with the notion that good quality, relevant, and up-to-date training is vital for LGV/HGV drivers, may not be considering whether load safety is being adequately covered.

After passing their initial qualification or completing their Driver CPC Periodic Training, a driver should understand the basic principles of load safety, covering: load shift and how it can be countered; the effect of forces on the moving vehicle and its load; and the consequences of not securing loads properly. However, it is very easy for LGV/HGV drivers to think only in terms of their own part of the operation. This is where the right training can come in and improve safety.

To help reduce incidents, LGV/HGV drivers should consider load safety at every single stage of the process, from the picker handling the consignment, to the lift truck operator moving the forks onto the pallet, and to the loading assistant directing the placement of the loads.

Two of the biggest possible issues during loading and unloading operations are drive-aways and vehicle movement (or creep).

Early drive-aways can be prevented by the driver leaving the vehicle until the loading/unloading operation is complete. If the driver is waiting inside the cab during loading and unloading, they should stow their keys in the glove box until the operation is complete.

Even with the park brake applied, vehicle creep can occur during loading/unloading, due to the vehicle rocking on its suspension. This widens the gap between the loading bay and the vehicle, posing a risk to anyone working in that area. The vehicle loader, machinery or goods can fall from the vehicle, posing a danger to the loader and anyone working in the vicinity.

By implementing the right training, LGV/HGV drivers can learn to take all of this into account – considering what the load is, how it is stored, and how it is put on the vehicle, including how it is distributed and secured once placed on the vehicle.

Know the importance of planning

Planning is an important part of the process. With the right training, drivers can learn the importance of planning for each consignment. This includes thinking about the working environment, weather conditions, the vehicle, lifting equipment, and working at height, as well as securing and removing the load.
With such a long list of considerations, it makes it especially crucial for drivers to plan the procedures, no matter how many times they have loaded and unloaded a vehicle. However, repetition of the same work procedures can lead to complacency, which means some actions or checks get overlooked, or are performed incorrectly. This can create a completely avoidable risk. Regular training is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to help emphasise the importance of planning to LGV/HGV drivers, and to warn them of the very real risks that becoming complacent can cause.

Understand the science of load distribution

Unstable loads obviously pose a number of potential problems. This includes damage to the vehicle, the load and the roadways, as well as the more serious possibility of personal injury to the driver. An unstable load can also impact steering and braking. Understanding load distribution is also very important. Professional LGV/HGV drivers must be trained to a level where they can be responsible for ensuring their vehicles are loaded safely and correctly, which includes making sure loads are positioned correctly and that axle weights are not exceeded.
Drivers should always be aware of what they are carrying and how it could behave in transit. They also need to be trained in how the load could be affected by driving behaviour, acceleration, braking and the speed at which they turn corners, for example.

Be prepared for anything

At some point in a driver’s career, they are likely to encounter an abnormal load. The transportation of abnormal loads is a complex issue that illustrates why it is so important that professional LGV/HGV drivers not only understand the vehicle they drive and the loads they transport, but also the legislation and regulations that surround their work. For instance, drivers must ensure they are up to date on Construction and Use Regulations concerning all aspects of their vehicle.

Incorporate safe loading into Driver CPC Periodic Training
All of this demonstrates the need for training to tackle this important issue, and it needn’t be a burden for employers. In fact, by planning Driver CPC Periodic Training effectively, employers can ensure dedicated load safety training is covered.

Although it can sometimes be overlooked, load safety training is vital to enhance the safety of drivers, and other road users such as pedestrians. It is also necessary to help reduce the number of load-related incidents on our roads.

Employers and training providers can use Driver CPC Periodic Training courses incorporating content on load safety. For instance, topics could cover the Principles of Safe Loading, Planning to Load and Unload, Load Distribution, Load Awareness and Abnormal Loads.

To keep LGV/HGV drivers engaged and help them to retain the information, RTITB Driver CPC Periodic Training helps to tailor content to meet the learning and styles of drivers. Employers and training providers can incorporate interactive training methods, such as case studies, quizzes, real world discussions and practical training.

Driving for Better Safety - Free eBook download

This eBook will guide you through some of the key understandings you need to be able to manage driver safety effectively and, at the end, provide a series of free resources you can access to help you ensure your own driver safety management system is robust, legally compliant and in line with industry-accepted good practice.

Download this eBook from Driving for Better Business and SHP to cover:

  • Why do we need to manage driver safety?
  • Duty of care – a shared responsibility;
  • Setting the rules with a driving for work policy;
  • Managing driver safety;
  • Ensuring safe vehicles;
  • Safe journeys and fitness to drive;
  • Record keeping;
  • Reporting;
  • The business benefits of good practice;
  • Additional resources

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