Often, the last people able to check a laden vehicle before it hits the road are the loader and driver. Therefore, they are often responsible for the most critical and final checkpoint in the transport journey.
So what are some of the overarching compliance obligations that loaders and drivers should consider before a vehicle departs?
Since the beginning of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) some years ago, there have been many heavy vehicle incidents due to a lack of the requisite checks regarding mass, dimension and load-restraint prior to heavy vehicles commencing their journeys.
Some breaches of mass and dimension have caused significant damage to infrastructure. Other load restraint breaches have resulted in the deaths of motorists who have been struck by, or driven/ridden into, items that have fallen from vehicles.
Under the Chain of Responsibility (CoR), loading managers and loaders have a number of responsibilities, including (but not limited to) ensuring that:
- a load does not cause the vehicle mass limits to be exceeded; and
- a load is placed in such a way and secured in such a manner that it does not become unstable, unsafe, move or fall off the vehicle.
Similarly, drivers are primarily responsible for ensuring that their vehicle does not exceed mass or dimension limits, and loads are appropriately restrained.
Examining a loader’s and driver’s role and responsibilities within the supply chain is the first step in identifying the principal compliance issues that arise in loading situations.
3 key compliance matters
Loaders and drivers must check three principal compliance matters:
- Mass – including gross, axle/axle group limits, container maximum limit (for containerised cargo), and the provision of a complying Container Weight Declaration (CWD).
- Dimension – including that the goods are within the physical limits of the truck/tray or, if not, within permissible height/overhang limits for the vehicle.
- Load restraint – including that the goods are placed in accordance with the loading plan prepared jointly by the packer and driver, and that they are properly restrained (using equipment in good working condition) in accordance with the performance standards in the Load Restraint Guide and/or any load restraint guidelines applicable at any loading site.
CoR compliance checklist for drivers and loaders
Although most loaders and drivers will have these three matters in mind, small issues can often be overlooked, especially when pressured by tight schedules.
An easy way to prevent this from happening is to prepare a checklist to ensure that nothing is missed in the final check. Although you will need to tailor your checklist to your individual business and its particular loading practices, (the NHVR and RMS websites include some role-based compliance guidance, too) we have identified some general points that can be implemented into any checklist:
Checklist: 8 points where drivers and loaders should tick ‘yes’
|Has the driver advised the loader of the vehicle’s gross vehicle mass, maximum load mass and axle mass limits?|
|Has the loader verified that the load mass does not exceed the permissible limit?|
|Has the loader ensured that the load does not exceed the dimensions of any pallet, frame or skid, and it is suitably secured/wrapped for transport and is stable?|
|Has the loader ensured the correct labelling of the load, including any mass information?|
|Have the driver and loader agreed to a loading plan, ensuring the allocation of weight over the vehicle will not cause axle mass limits to be exceeded?|
|Have the driver and loader checked that the load is suitably restrained, including inspection of restraint equipment to ensure that it is in good working order?|
|Are the driver and loader sure that the load does not exceed vehicle dimension limits?|
|Has the driver completed and provided a driver declaration form (if required)?|
Note that this is not a definitive list. It is important that both the loader and driver are in agreement with the results of the above checklist (or other points you might add) as, under CoR rules, one party in the Chain can be held liable for a breach committed by another party.
Do you know exactly what YOU can be liable for under the Chain of Responsibility?
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