While we all know there are many wrong ways to secure a load, is
there ever a 'right way' to secure any load?
The answer to that question will depend on many factors.
Commercially, there will always be a tendency to adopt the minimum
standard by which 'safe' load securing can be achieved. For
many businesses, setting the standard any higher may result in an
unnecessary waste of resources and over complication which may in
itself have dangerous consequences.
In fact, the design of the most efficient and effective load
securing may require knowledge of applied physics and use of
advanced technology, neither of which may be available to the
ordinary truck driver.
So where do we look for guidance?
The starting point for the last 10 years has been the Load
Restraint Guide (the Guide) a joint
publication of the National Transport Commission and the NSW Road
Transport Authority (now Road and Maritime Services). The Guide
itself was put together by a steering committee which included
representatives from Queensland Transport, the Australian Trucking
Association (ATA) and the Transport Workers Union
(TWU). It draws on similar guides and standards
The Guide is in two parts. Part 1 applies to drivers and Part 2
applies to engineers and designers.
Excellent though the Guide is, it recognises that it only sets
out "basic safety principles" and any consideration of
the guidelines will need to take into account that they are 10
years old. While the laws of physics may not have changed in the
last decade, much else has.
First, technology has changed significantly, both in terms of
vehicles and the means of load securing.
Second, the law has changed and while the Guide is addressed to
drivers, it is not addressed to other parties in the Chain of
As it stands, s 111 of the Heavy Vehicle National Law
(HVNL) prohibits a person driving a vehicle which
does not, or whose load does not, comply with the loading
requirement s applicable to that vehicle. Section 183 of the HVNL
extends that liability to prime contractors, consignors, packers,
loading managers and loaders of goods.
The "all reasonable steps defence" will apply to
charges under this section and to make out such a defence a
defendant would need to establish (among other things) that it had
work systems in place to enable compliance.
Given the changes Chain of Responsibility laws have effected to
the road safety landscape, regulators will increasingly look to
those parties that would be expected to have the resources and
knowledge in place to ensure safe, stable loading methods. This
will often be at the load's point of origin.
So now is the time to review your business's loading
policies - and ensure that all workers involved in the loading
process are appropriately trained and inducted.
This publication does not deal with every important topic or
change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute
for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's
specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of
interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice
relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named
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