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August 15, 2019 at 3:41 PM

Unsecure loads present a massive danger to road users. Van drivers that fail to restrain their cargo increase the risk of items moving around the load area - especially during braking or turning - which could cause the van to rollover.

Similarly, professionals using pick-up trucks, tippers and dropsides without securing their load run the risk of having objects fall from the vehicle onto the road.

Effective load securing prevents goods from shifting in transit or falling onto the road, causing danger to other road users. During 2013, the Highways Agency reported over 22,000 road impact incidents caused by objects falling from vehicles. On average, it took 20 minutes to deal with each incident.

The government and independent businesses can also benefit from secure loads. Unsafe loads on vehicles cost UK businesses millions of pounds in damaged goods. By ensuring that goods don't fall from the vehicle, they will arrive at their destination in-tact and without damaging any infrastructure which saves money all round.

The first step to transporting any load safely and securely is to be prepared.

Planning Your Load

Planning your van load is a critical step in ensuring the safety of your cargo and the other drivers on the road. Even though it may be tempting to load everything in the back of your Ford Transit van or any other van and hit the road, taking the time to organise and prepare your load can prevent accidents and save you time and money in the long run. If you're in the market for a van, it's essential to research van sales in the UK to find the right vehicle for your needs and ensure that it has adequate storage space for your cargo.

Choosing the right vehicle for your load

Choosing the right vehicle for your load is critical when it comes to ensuring safety on the road. Every van has a maximum weight capacity, which should be adhered to at all times. Overloading a vehicle can cause severe damage to the suspension and brakes, as well as reduce manoeuvrability and visibility. If your cargo exceeds the capacity of a van, consider looking into a mini bus sale to find a larger vehicle that can safely accommodate your load.

Before choosing a van or truck for your load, consider the weight and size of your cargo. It's essential to select a vehicle capable of carrying your load without exceeding its weight capacity. Additionally, make sure that the length and width of your cargo can fit comfortably into the back of the long wheel base van or truck.

Another factor to consider when choosing a vehicle for your load is how you plan on securing it during transportation. Some vehicles come equipped with built-in tie-down systems, while others may require additional straps or bungee cords. Ensuring that you have sufficient tie-down points will help keep your cargo secure while driving on uneven terrain or sudden stops. By considering these factors, you can ensure that both you and your items arrive safely at their destination.

Organising your load

Knowing the items you've got to transport will help to maximise the space in the back of your van. When you're planning how to load you're cargo, keep the game Tetris in mind - always load items in rows.

Start from the back of the van and work your way forwards, loading large and bulky items first. Don't forget to distrubute heavy items evenly across the floor surface of your van, making sure not to overload it - you should be able to find the maximum payload in the owner's manual.

Although it seems like common sense, it's important to remember that whatever you load first will be unloaded last. Having a loading plan can help to systematically organise how your van is loaded.

Inspecting your vehicle for potential issues

When securing a load in your van, it's essential to take extra precautions by inspecting the vehicle to identify any potential issues that could cause problems during transit.

Start by checking the tires for cracks or bulges that indicate wear and tear. Be sure to check the oil, coolant and brake fluid because low levels can lead to serious engine problems. Ensure that all lights are working correctly so other drivers can see you on the road.

If you notice anything out of order during this inspection process, get it fixed before heading out on the road with a heavy load in tow. Taking these preventative measures will help keep you and others safe while travelling with a loaded van.

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Essential Tools for Securing Your Van Load

Ratchet straps

When it comes to securing your van load, ratchet straps are an essential tool that can make all the difference. These durable straps typically have a breaking strength of up to 10,000 pounds and come in various lengths to accommodate different types of loads. They work by wrapping around the cargo and using a ratcheting mechanism to tighten the strap until the load is firmly secured.

One crucial aspect to keep in mind when using ratchet straps is proper placement. The straps should be wrapped tightly around the cargo and attached securely to anchor points on the van floor or walls. It's also critical to ensure that there are no twists or knots in the strap, as this can weaken its strength and compromise its ability to hold down your cargo.

Cargo bars

Cargo bars, also known as load bars, are essential tools for securing your van load. They are adjustable and can be easily installed in the back of your van to prevent the shifting of your cargo while driving. Cargo bars come in various lengths and widths to fit different vans and payloads.

One of the benefits of using a cargo bar is that it provides a cost-effective solution for preventing damage to your goods during transportation. By applying pressure between the walls or floor of your van and the cargo, you reduce the risk of shifting. This can help protect fragile items such as electronics, glassware and ceramics from breaking.

Bungee cords

Bungee cords can be used to tie down cargo, which prevents it from moving around during transport. There are different types of bungee cords available in the market, each with a unique design and purpose. Some come with hooks on either end, while others have carabiners or loops. Choose one that suits your specific needs according to your load size and how far you need to transport it.

It's also crucial to note that bungee cords lose elasticity over time. Always inspect them before use, looking for any signs of wear or damage. If you notice any fraying or stretching beyond their limit, discard them immediately, as this could lead to accidents while transporting your cargo.

Cargo nets

Cargo nets have become increasingly popular among delivery drivers who need to transport goods safely and efficiently. A cargo net serves as a barrier that keeps your items in place during transit, preventing them from shifting or falling out of the vehicle.

When choosing a cargo net, it is vital to consider its size and strength. The net should be large enough to accommodate your load while still being able to stretch enough to secure all corners and edges of the items. Additionally, it should be strong enough to withstand any sudden movements or impacts during transit.

How To Secure Items In The Back Of A Van

Planning how you secure your load is an important step to keeping workers and road users safe. To secure a load safely, you need to make sure it's restrained and contained.

When assessing how loads are secured DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) examiners ask a series of questions:

  • Can the load slide or topple forwards or backwards?
  • Can the load slide or topple off the side?
  • Is the load unstable?
  • Is the load securing equipment in poor condition?
  • Is there anything loose the might fall off?
  • Does the vehicle present an immediate likelihood of causing danger of injury due to its load security or stability?

The type of securing method you use depends on the load you're transporting. You need to choose a securing method that stops the load from moving without creating other risks (e.g. working at height or unnecessary manual handling).

Tether Your Contents

Using anchor points in the van's load area, you can use webbing or lashing straps to secure objects and prevent them from moving around.

Items should be tethered to the van in the directions of travel rather than perpendicular to travel which will provide extra restraint if the contents are jolted while moving.

It's important to regularly check your webbing straps for damage - even a small cut or tear can significantly reduce its stength and ability to secure the load.

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Line The Load Floor

If your van doesn't already have a floor lining, you might consider lining it with 3/4" plywood - it makes a good base for non-slip solutions to go on.

In addition, you can invest in heavy rubber mats that can be extended across the floor of your van. They will help to increase the amount of friction between your cargo and the van floor, as well as provide more stability when walking inside the van.

Although the mats stop objects from sliding in transit and make them more secure, you'll need to lift larger objects into place when loading and unloading. Previously, you would have been able to slide them across the floor. 

Cover Your Contents

If your vehicle has an open load area, for example a pick-up truck or tipper, it's advisable to cover your cargo with tarpaulin or netting. Whichever material you're using, make sure to secure it to a solid part of the vehicle before starting your journey.

Tips for Safe Driving with a Secured Load

·   Check your mirrors frequently: Keep an eye on your side mirrors throughout the trip to ensure that nothing has shifted during transit. If you notice any changes in the load's position, stop as soon as possible and adjust accordingly.

·   Drive defensively: Safe driving practices go hand-in-hand with properly securing cargo during transit. Always keep a safe distance from other vehicles on the road, avoid sudden braking/acceleration and stay within appropriate speed limits for road conditions when carrying a heavy load.

·   Check your load regularly: Periodically check your load to ensure that it remains secure and hasn't shifted during transit. If you notice any issues, stop and make necessary adjustments before continuing.

Consequences Of Poor Load Securing

In the worst case scenario, poor load securing can result in death or serious injury for the driver, other road users and anyone involved in the unloading of the vehicle.

In fact, statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that workplace transport is one of the highest risk activites, accounting for over half of all death or injury incidents reported to HSE.

Being involved in a load securing incident that causes death could lead to prosecution due to negligence which can result in substanstial fines.

Aside from causing death or injury, the business risks losing a lot of money if goods are damaged in transit or during the unloading process.

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Before setting off on any journey, every van driver should ensure that their load is secure. To help identify potential problems, encourage all drivers to ask themselves the DVSA examiner questions listed above.


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