Key points

  • GMP are carrying out a campaign to tackle drivers carrying unsecure loads, particularly where they are carrying dangerous goods.
  • The enforcement campaign will run from 22 to 26 July and any driver carrying unsecured loads could face a driving disqualification for dangerous driving and could have their vehicle seized.

Load consignors, vehicle operators and drivers of goods vehicles will become the targets of a police campaign this week focusing on load security and transporting dangerous goods safely.

From 22 to 26 July 2019, officers from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) will be carrying out proactive enforcement to identify unsafe vehicles and acting where needed to keep roads safe.

The campaign, co-ordinated by the National Police Chiefs’ Council, aims to shed light on the dangers of failing to transport goods properly and the risks to drivers, other road users and the environment.

Load security and dangerous goods

There is always the risk of accidents when carrying goods by road or rail.

  • If loads aren’t properly secured, they may fall off the back of the vehicle and onto the road.
  • They may also shift during transit, causing the vehicle to become unstable and increasing the threat of an accident.
  • Even if the journey is made safely, unstable loads pose a risk of injury to workers responsible for unloading goods.

Of course, risk is heightened if the goods themselves are dangerous. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), dangerous goods are items or material that can pose a risk to people, animals, or the environment if not properly handled in use or during transport. Hazards associated with these substances include fire, explosion, chemical burn and environmental damage.

"Load security is vitally important. An insecure load can affect a vehicle’s stability and in severe cases a shifting load can put lives at risk. Working with the police and other partner agencies like this is an efficient use of public funds which will make Britain’s roads even safer."

Lee Webb, National Enforcement Delivery Manager, DVSA

Who's responsible?

Ultimately, drivers are responsible for the safety of their vehicle on the road. Sergeant Paul Lenarcic of Greater Manchester Police’s Safer Roads Targeting Team explained that drivers caught with an unsecured load could face a driving disqualification for dangerous driving, which will result in them losing their licence.

However, while the burden of responsibility falls on drivers, it is also the responsibility of consignors and vehicle operators to ensure that the load a vehicle carries is safe and secure from the point of loading right through to unloading.

For employers, it’s important to remember that if your business transports goods, materials or waste, you have a legal duty to take all reasonable steps to ensure risk is kept to a minimum. If you transport hazardous goods or certain other items, including goods, animals and waste, there are also specific legal duties you must comply with.

In relation to this latest campaign, as well as the consequences of having a vehicle seized, if it is found that goods aren’t properly secured, employers may also face questions from the police and/or the regulator around the safety of their practices.

Don’t get caught out

When transporting goods, there are several practical steps you can take to safeguard against common risks:

  • Always use the most appropriate form of transport for your goods.
  • Use load-securing equipment such as lashings, straps and tie-downs to prevent goods from shifting in transit. (As well as preventing danger to other road uses, this makes good business sense as it will ensure items arrive at their destination undamaged).
  • Ensure weight is distributed evenly.
  • Avoid overloading vehicles.
  • Use warning signs to indicate an overhanging, wide, long or hazardous load.

Further guidance on the basics of safe load securing can be found here.

When it comes to dangerous goods, the HSE has reiterated the importance of ensuring they are packaged properly, loaded and secured to stop them moving around inside the vehicle. It is also a good idea to make sure that the vehicle carries safety equipment, has identifying markings to show that it is carrying dangerous goods, and is driven by a driver trained to deal with dangerous goods.

Speak to an expert

Need support with sensible load securing measures and storing and transporting hazardous substances? Call 0345 226 8393 for practical advice from our Health & Safety specialists.

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