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Safe Loading Practices – What and Why

As you go through your training as an HGV driver, you will probably notice a heavy focus on safety. It’s not surprising – this job requires you to be in charge of a multi-tonne vehicle around road users and pedestrians, so employers want to know you will be safe and responsible with it. But on top of learning how to physically drive an HGV safely, you will also learn how to operate one safely before and after your journey. That means learning about safe loading – which is what we’re here to talk about today.

Why Practice Safe Loading?

Safe loading is basically what it says on the tin – it is ensuring your HGV is loaded safely for transportation. It’s an essential practice to keep you and other road users safe, as well as the cargo you are transporting. Without proper loading, large loads can shift and move on the back of your HGV. At best, this causes your HGV to become unbalanced, which can cause problems with steering and uneven wear on the vehicle. At worst, it can cause your vehicle to shed its load mid-journey, causing severe accidents, damage to the cargo and potentially loss of life. Overall, not a risk worth taking!

The Basic Principles of Safe Loading

When you put it like that, safe loading suddenly seems like a lot more of an issue – and it is. It’s something that HGV drivers go through a lot of training to learn, and a bit emphasis is put on safe loading within the workplace. The good news is, there are three basic principles of safe loading you need to learn:

  • Principle 1 – The securing system you’re using need to be able to withstand the entire load weight forwards (in case of heavy raking), half the weight to the rear and to the sides (in case of unexpected lateral movements). This stops your load falling off in any direction and minimizes movement.

 

  • Principle 2 – Always use the structure of your trailer or vehicle to secure your goods. This might mean loading into a fully secured lorry box, or it may mean strapping it to the bulkhead or headboard. Any gaps between the anchor points need to be packed with pallets or similar materials to stop any undesired movement.

 

  • Principle 3 – Always use the correct restraints and lashes for the type of load you’re carrying. Some trailers will come with this equipment built in, which makes securing loads easier. But often you’ll need to use netting, webbing, lashes or chains to secure the load, depending on what you’re transporting.

Proper Lashing Techniques

When you’re working with an open load, or with any bigger, bulkier or more awkward loads, you may need to lash them onto the back of a flatbed, instead of carrying them in a sealed container. If this is the case, then you will need to secure them with the proper lashing techniques. There are two main methods of lashing in use today, known as direct lashing and frictional lashing:

 

  • Direct lashing is mainly used for the loading of heavy machinery and plant equipment, with the lashes being used in opposing pairs.

 

  • Frictional lashing is the more common method, and it involves putting lashes over the load from one side of the vehicle or trailer to the other. The number of lashes used will depend on a lot of things, like the load weight, the rating of your lashings, load bed friction and how many tensioners you use.

 

Whichever method you prefer to use, there is one thing that is critically important to remember, and that is to get the lashing as close to vertical as you physically can. For some loads, this might be very straight forward but for others, it can be challenging, A common way to improve the lashing is to put pallets around the load in areas that need levelling out. And if you’re transporting malleable materials like aggregates or powders, which might require you to switch to chains or transport within a container.

At The LGV Training Centre, we believe in a thorough approach to training. We don’t just teach you what to do when you’re behind the wheel but instead, cover every single aspect of your life as an HGV driver. As specialised HGV trainers, we pride ourselves in supporting drivers to become the best and safest haulage workers they can be. To find out more, just get in touch with the team today.

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