If carried out incorrectly, vehicle loading can put your workforce at great risk. Not only of injuring themselves, they could also jeopardise the safety of other road users. If carried out against procedure, loading can be financially costly to your business too. Here are the various do’s and don’ts you should bear in mind when it comes to loading and unloading.
The topics we will cover:
- SAFETY EQUIPMENT USED
- HOW TO LIFT WITHOUT CAUSING INJURY
- WHERE YOU CAN LOAD AND UNLOAD
- WHERE YOU CAN'T LOAD AND UNLOAD
Some loads will be significantly heavier than others. For example, in construction, heavy machinery will need to be transported to and from the site. These prove to be a lot heavier than various packages that your everyday courier will need to move. Ensure that your heavy construction loads adhere to your construction site safety policies.
Low bed trailers are used for the transportation of containers and oversized heavy cargo. These trailers are also used for loads with height and weight restrictions. Some of these trailers allow machines or equipment to be driven onto their platforms. When loading, ensure your staff are fully trained with the correct procedures as mistakes with heavy loads could be costly, both physically and financially to the business.
If using safety equipment to aid vehicle loading, make sure that before it’s used, it’s tested and is up to standard. If your machinery doesn’t pass the test and you still continue to use it, you are putting your staff at a great risk. Plus, it is likely that you will liable if something does unfortunately go wrong.
If you don’t follow the correct procedure when lifting, you can seriously harm yourself. As vehicle loading requires a lot of moving and lifting items, here is the correct procedure to steer you clear of injury:
- Adopt a stable and strong position by bending your knees and keeping your back straight.
- Get a good grip of the item and make smooth movements. Jerks and twists are likely to be the movements that aggravate injuries.
- Once you’ve secured the load, look ahead and keep your head up.
- If using a trolley to move heavier items, the best position for handle height is between your shoulder and your waist.
- With any load you should always make sure that you spread it evenly. This will allow you to keep a good centre of gravity. Try and load heavier items in the middle and put the lighter ones to the sides.
And it's also worth noting, at this point, that there are usually rules and regulations on where you can unload and where you can't.
In accordance with local authorities’ time limits, you are allowed to load/unload on both single and double yellow lines (unless any loading restrictions do apply). Couriers should be careful when delivering items on a main road. Make sure you remember the time limits if you want to avoid getting a ticket.
Loading bays often give you a 20-minute time limit for vehicle loading. Civil enforcement officers (CEO) often don’t allow much slack on this time limit. This includes stopping for a chat or sitting in your vehicle on your phone after loading. The time limit allows for loading and relevant paperwork only, so in order to avoid a ticket, you’ll need to be efficient.
Other places that permit vehicle loading are parking bays, resident bays or even the gaps in between them. You are permitted to load/unload your vehicle for a maximum of 20 minutes without any payment permitted. Bear in mind, these laws differ between the different local authorities, so ensure you’re not breaching any of these rules before loading safely.
Bus lanes and stops have restrictions on vehicle loading. You may enter a bus lane to load/unload where it is not prohibited by a clearway (a lane restricted to just buses and taxis), red route (no stopping allowed) or a loading ban. Make sure that you do not enter these lanes during the signed times too, as this can lead to a fine.
Other restricted places for vehicle loading are:
- Pedestrian crossings.
- School keep clear zig-zags.
- On roads with double white lines in the centre.
- Cycle lanes.
- Where the vehicle would cause an obstruction. For example, 10 metres from a junction.
Not only will attempting to load/unload your vehicle in these areas result in the business being fined, but it will put the driver at risk. Ensure that drivers know the laws and regulations on where they can and can’t load.
- Always check road signs for information. If there are no road signs, check the road linings. These will indicate whether you can or can’t load there.
- Ensure the vehicle or trailer has its brakes applied and all stabilisers are used. The vehicle should be as stable as possible.
- Never stop to load in a place where you will cause an obstruction. This will not only put you at risk but other road users too.
- The driver is responsible to prove that the vehicle was being loaded legitimately.
- Unless you have exclusive permission from the relevant authorities, be sure to never load or unload in a suspended bay.
- If you do unfortunately receive a parking ticket, always accept it. You can appeal it at a later time. If you drive off and ignore it, or act aggressively towards the CEO, the fine will only be sent in the post and will likely be a larger sum.
Be Safe When Loading This Summer
By following the advice in this blog, you will take a step in the right direction to keeping your workforce safe at all times when vehicle loading. But truthfully, there’s so much more you need to know. For example, in order to achieve maximum safety, your staff must also be dressed appropriately to carry out their daily tasks.
To help you out, we've created a Summer eBook which includes tips and advice on how to clothe and equip your team for warmer temperatures and the risks of the outdoors. Download your FREE guide below.