Guide to the Safe Loading and Unloading of Vehicles

Fact: Falling objects from vehicles cause many road accidents in the UK alone. Read more on how to avoid this by safely loading and unloading your vehicles.
Abide by best practices to ensure a safe loading and unloading of vehicles

To keep the road a safe place for everyone, fleet managers and drivers must abide by the proper loading and unloading rules when transporting goods. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has specific guidelines that detail how goods should be safely loaded and unloaded. Whether you drive a van, a company car or a heavy goods vehicle, it’s important that you secure your load according to the DVSA guidelines. 

This article will discuss the importance of load securing and the basics of the safe loading and unloading of vehicles, as well as the most common types of loads and load securing solutions. 

The Importance of Load Securing

If a driver fails to safely secure a load, it could endanger others on the road. In fact, it’s estimated that 22,000 road accidents were caused by objects falling from vehicles in 2013. 

Accidents caused by poorly secured loads can result in traffic jams, injury to the driver and other road users, damage to infrastructure and damage to the goods being transported. 

By following the safe loading of vehicles code of practice, drivers can avoid preventable accidents from occuring. 

Full Checklist: safe loading and unloading of vehicles


The Basics of Safely Loading & Unloading Vehicles 

The exact loading and unloading rules drivers should follow will depend on the type of vehicle they’re driving. For an overview of the basics of how to safely secure loads, you can watch this informational video produced by the DVSA.  

Are you carrying out safe loading and unloading of vehicles?

In general, drivers should consider the following when loading and unloading vehicles: 

  • Is the vehicle right for the type of load being transported? 
  • Was the vehicle loaded properly? 
  • Were the correct securing methods used? 
  • Was an adequate load restraint used? 
  • Do they know how to correct a load that has shifted mid-transport? 

Read more: How Are Commercial Vehicles Defined?

It’s important to remember that the combined strength of the load restraint system must be able to withstand a forward force of at least the total weight of the load. This will prevent the load from moving if severe braking occurs. 

Who’s Responsible for Loading & Unloading Vehicles? 

Both fleet managers and drivers should be trained in the safe loading and unloading of vehicles. Safe loading practices should be covered during driver training. Moreover, drivers should be supervised while loading and unloading vehicles until it’s clear that they’re properly trained. 

Read more: What Does A Fleet Manager Do?

If a load shifts during transport, it needs to be reported to the fleet manager. Fleet managers can learn from the experience and adjust their loading practices moving forward to avoid load shifts in the future. 

It may be useful for the haulier and the delivery site to communicate with each other to create a loading / unloading plan. It’s safer for everyone involved if it’s clear who’s responsible for what part of the loading / unloading process, as well as what the haulier can expect at the delivery site. 

Types of Loads 

There are no hard and fast rules for how businesses should manage the safe loading and unloading of vehicles. It all depends on the type of load and the vehicle being used. However, fleet managers should know how to properly secure common types of loads within their industry. 

Depending on the industry, fleet managers can expect to handle one or more of the following types of loads: 

Fruits & vegetables count as items to safely load and unload from your vehicles.
  • Palletised goods 
  • Roll cages
  • Crushable loads 
  • Lightweight and fragile loads 
  • Multi-drop loads 
  • Bulk loads that are carried loose 
  • Equipment carried on vehicles 
  • Skips 
  • FIBCs 
  • Vehicle transporters 
  • Kegs and barrels 
  • Scaffolding equipment
  • Timber
  • Steel, machinery and plant  

Read more: Keep Your Fleet Hygienic As Well As Safe

Common Load Securing Solutions 

The way a load should be secured will depend on various factors, such as the type of load, the securing equipment at hand and so on. 

Before securing a load, check to make sure it’s in working condition. Damaged equipment should be reported immediately. Moreover, it’s recommended that spare securing equipment is kept in the vehicle at all times. 

Common load securing solutions include: 

  • Rope hooks
  • Box pushers 
  • Lashings 
  • Kites
  • Sails 
  • Friction mats
  • Edge protectors 

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Safe Loading & Unloading of Vehicles for a Better Fleet 

Failure to safely secure a load can result in death or injury, damage to the goods being transported, damage to the roads or damage to property. To avoid any of these scenarios, fleet managers and drivers should be well versed in the loading and unloading rules set out by the DVSA. 

For more information on how to safely load and unload vehicles — including a breakdown of how to load specific types of vehicles — please refer to the DVSA’s complete load securing guide.  

In addition to safely loading vehicles, fleet managers are responsible for many more tasks. These tasks include mileage and fuel tracking, annual MOT tests and route optimisation, just to name a few. 

Vimcar’s fleet management system, Fleet Geo, can help streamline a fleet manager’s workload and create a more efficient fleet. Contact our team today for more information on how Fleet Geo can help your fleet surpass its goals. 


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