Monday, March 3, 2014

Road Haulage Operators Need to Know How to Load Cargo Safely says Freight Association

Guides are Freely Available to Ensure both National Regulations and Proper Stowage of Trucks Adhered To
Shipping News Feature

UK – EUROPE – WORLDWIDE – Despite a fairly aggressive Health and Safety stance in the UK, every year sees several people killed, and hundreds more injured often very seriously, by loads falling from British trucks. The cause generally tends to be the obvious culprit, unsafe or inappropriate practices when loading and securing the cargo, causing freight to shift. Other deaths and injuries occur whilst the vehicles are actually in transit yet the most basic training could ensure such tragedies are avoided. Now it appears road haulage operators are also falling foul of international law simply through ignorance of local regulations regarding the security of loads.

Recently the British International Freight Association (BIFA) made it known that it was regularly receiving complaints from its membership regarding vehicles being been stopped whilst en route in Europe because of illegal loading practices. BIFA members say that the problem usually arises in the German speaking countries and stems from there being more than one standard governing loading standards and the appropriate restraints to be used in specific cases.

BIFA itself sits on a Health and Safety Executive committee, where there is concern that the transport and logistics sector has the third highest accident rate of any industry within the UK. Whilst shifting loads cause relatively few fatal accidents they are a factor in most which involve a vehicle overturning and the resultant long delays which affect thousands of other road users, all of course additionally detrimental to the industry’s image.

The Association has welcomed the publication by The International Road Transport Union’s (IRU) International Commission on Technical Affairs (CIT) of their International Guidelines on Safe Load Securing for Road Transport, intended to ‘to promote safe load securing practices to all stakeholders involved in the transport of goods by road and further increase road safety.’ While the IRU guidelines are primarily based on a European standard on load restraining on road vehicles (EN 12195-1:2010), they also include other safe practices observed across the road transport industry, such as timber and vehicle transport as well as others, not covered by the European standard.

Any road haulage operator needing to conform to the requirements of a UK Operators Licence will recognise the mandatory requirement for proper driver (and loading staff) training to remove the risk of badly stowed cargo and, whilst the IRU guidelines are useful for hauliers venturing into Europe, the UK’s Department for Transport also publishes its own guidelines for the ‘Safety of Loads on Vehicles’, parts of which are an essential read for all professional drivers, together with specialist sections on goods such as sheet glass, timber, metal rods etc. for the occasions when a driver might need to stray out of his or her normal comfort zone.