On a scale of 1 to 10, how safe are you really on the road? When last did you check whether you align with the relevant laws and regulations on transporting cargo on Aussie roads?
We’re talking to all logistics professionals but also the general consumer who uses a trailer, truck or vehicle to take items from point A to point B. When you don’t consider topics like tow strap capacities and weight of the cargo with enough respect, it’s easy for mistakes to happen that could cost you your cargo, or even someone’s life.
Here are general safety guidelines that we should all review from time to time. Are you still compliant?
Safety Tips for Loading and Transporting Cargo
Vehicle Maintenance Matters
Ensure you’re using a vehicle which is up to date in terms of maintenance and services. If you’re hiring a vehicle, request the service history for your own peace of mind.
By driving in a well-maintained vehicle, you’re reducing the chance of breaking down or even causing an accident that can involve other vehicles. Therefore, along with keeping maintenance up to date, do these checks before setting off:
- Do all lights work?
- Is tyre pressure in order?
- Test items like brakes and window wipers.
Also do a final visual check once you’ve loaded the trailer, truck or vehicle. The cargo you added shouldn’t obstruct a light or even your number plate.
Security on Site
Your list of responsibilities applies even before you as a driver leaves the premises at Point A. Whether for your own belongings or as part of a haul for commercial purposes, you must keep the contents safe. If unauthorised individuals gain access to the cargo, it creates an opportunity of theft or damage.
Furthermore, if someone should move items of the cargo without your knowledge, it could result in an unbalanced load. On the road, this can cause the trailer or vehicle to be more difficult to control.
For these reasons, don’t leave cargo unattended as far as is possible. When using a truck with doors, rather close and lock them, even if you’re only stepping away for a few minutes.
Schedule Breaks and Checks
You may want to get to your destination as quick as possible, but you must add time for load checking to your timeline. During travel, items can shift and even ratchet load binders can loosen, especially when going over rougher terrain. It’s your responsibility to check all tow straps, ratchets, ropes and other items you used to secure the cargo.
Rather Secure EVERYTHING
When transporting certain goods, drivers may think it’s not necessary to secure the items. However, anything you don’t restrain properly can cause damage, distraction or even injury if you’re involved in a crash (or brake suddenly). Therefore, consider these tips:
- Keep the interior of the vehicle free of loose items, even bottles or tools.
- Secure general items like laptops, luggage, camping gear or sports equipment. You should treat these items the same way you would manage safety when travelling with merchandise or other cargo.
- Even your garden refuse poses a risk if it should blow off the back of a truck. This is why items like tarpaulins are so important when transporting goods.
Use Cargo Barriers Wisely
Another item that comes in handy is a cargo barrier. Place this to keep people away from cargo. Remember, individuals should NEVER be on the same side as the cargo you’re transporting.
Consider Your Load Restraint System Capacity
Educate yourself on the abilities but also limits of each load restraint item you’ll use during the haul. Whether it’s a chain, a tow strap, a winch or a rope, each of them can only manage a certain amount of weight. You must work out how many of these items you’ll need to sufficiently secure the load.
Also check each item you’re using and set aside anything that shows signs of disrepair. If you put pressure on such an item, there’s an increased chance of it snapping during the journey.
Keeping Cargo Unloading Safe Too
Your responsibility as a driver or logistics manager doesn’t really stop at the moment of arrival. You also have to get that cargo safely off the vehicle.
Some basic guidelines that’s worth reviewing with your crew:
- The vehicle you’re loading from must be secured before anyone touches the cargo or starts unloading items.
- Position the vehicle on a flat, even surface. If there are holes on the ground, someone can easily trip while offloading.
- Is there sufficient light so everyone can work without creating unnecessary risk?
Hauling cargo is common on all countries’ roads. Even taking a load of furniture to your new home makes you part of the industry! But its everyday occurrence shouldn’t lead anyone to underestimate the importance of safety measures during any task of transporting a load.
What rules do you need to review with your team?