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May 7, 2009

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Vehicle checks highlight cargo-loading risks

More than 75 per cent of vehicles stopped during spot checks carried

out last month in England and Wales were not loaded safely.

Officials from the HSE and the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA) carried out three days of checks in Wrexham, Birmingham and Humberside. The majority of the 40 vehicles stopped needed remedial action to make the load safe for onward travel and subsequent unloading.

Marcia Davies, head of injury reduction at the HSE, described the proportion of vehicles found to have a problem as “alarming”.

She said: “Vehicles which are loaded safely for the road can usually be safely unloaded at the workplace, and vice versa. A significant number of manual-handling injuries, falls from heights and accidents caused by falling objects result from poorly-restrained loads shifting in transit. HSE will be launching a campaign offering guidance and advice on loading and unloading later this year.”

The Executive lists a number of risks posed by badly secured loads, including:
€ᄁ shedding loads in transit, endangering other road users, and causing traffic disruption;
€ᄁ vehicles overturning when they become unstable, following a load shifting in transit;
€ᄁ loads moving inside the vehicle during transit, which then fall off at the point of delivery, with potential to cause injury;
€ᄁ workers climbing on to trailers to deal with a load that has shifted in transit, who then suffer either a fall, manual-handling injury, or are struck by parts of the load; and
€ᄁ damage to goods being carried.

John Fitch, VOSA’s research and development manager, said: “VOSA and HSE recognise that insecure loads present a great risk to road safety. We are keen to participate in HSE’s new campaign to highlight the issues of unsecure loads, provide education and information for the haulage industry, and reduce congestion caused by load loss.”

Kate Gibbs, from the Road Haulage Association, commented: “A considerable amount of work has been conducted on the important issue of load restraint. Key stakeholders have been involved in assessing where the main problems are, and looking at how we bring about the necessary improvement required.

“Items such as vehicle design and specification, including the correct restraints for specific loads, loading dynamics, route planning, loader and driver training, are just a few of the factors requiring consideration prior to dispatching loads.”

Over the last three years, 14 people have been killed and more than 2000 people have been injured by cargo falling from vehicles as they are being loaded or unloaded.

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