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  • Haulage: Protecting your load

    As a Fleet Manager employing drivers of HGV’s or LGVs you will need to provide policies, procedures and training on handling the vehicles provided and understanding how to drive and operate each vehicle safely. It is also important that each driver is insured correctly for the correct vehicle category which is a legal requirement and to avoid insurers considering cancelling the haulage insurance policy on this basis when it comes to a necessary claim.

    Read our guide on how to conduct a driving licence check.

    Using the correct trailer for your load

    Haulage protecting your loadWhen deciding the type of trailer you choose for a journey you need to consider the load and the equipment you use to secure it.

    A towing trailer can be used for smaller loads and shorter distances. A Flatbed Trailer is among the most common types of trailer which is available in many capacities and sizes allowing for easy loading and unloading of up to around 22 tonnes.

    For larger loads you can consider a Flat Rack Trailer which is similar to Flat Bed but carries the load on the top of the truck and is capable of loads up to around 40 tonnes. Anything above this capacity will require a Special Trailer which can be modified to suit your requirements.

    How to calculate the payload

    A payload is the maximum load a vehicle can carry. It is important not to carry anything over this weight. You need to take the weight of the vehicle itself away from the maximum authorised mass (MAM) for your vehicle.

    MAM – kerbside weight (total weight of vehicle and fuel, but not driver or load) = payload

    How to calculate the maximum gross axle weights

    The maximum load for front and rear axles will depend on the axle spacing and tyre equipment on a vehicle. To find the front axle maximum load you need to:

    (Payload in tonnes x distance from centre of load to rear axle in metres) ÷ Wheelbase length in metres

    To find the rear axle maximum load you can then subtract the front axle load from the payload.

    Securing your load safely

    When securing your load it is critical to ensure you have done so correctly in terms of if you are using the correct vehicle, how stable the load is, what kind of restraint you use and protecting the load from weather and damage. The weight of your load should be distributed evenly over the axles with the centre of gravity as low as possible.

    Depending on the load itself a suitable method of securing and using the correct anchoring points is important and you should check the capacity of the load anchorage points on the vehicle which should be clearly marked. You should ensure that the restraint that holds the load from moving forward upon breaking can withstand the total load. Restraints from the sides and from moving backwards should withstand half of the load.

    If you are transporting granular or flaked materials they will need to be covered with a sheet to prevent the load from blowing away or from rain or snow which in some cases can make the material become much heavier. If the load is less granular then it can be secured with a mesh netting to avoid spilling on the road.

    Load stability

    It is important that your drivers understand how the gravity of a vehicle changes with load and how different driving behaviour can cause your load to become unstable. Sudden acceleration could cause a load to fall off the back of a vehicle and harsh braking can move the load forward causing the front to dip or even skid, and some loads can even move with enough force to have fatal consequences. Loads are most likely to become unstable when driving on slip roads, on roundabouts or on long bends if going too fast.

    Checking the load

    It is important to regularly check the load of your vehicle during a journey. The load can shift during a journey and you need to watch out for signs of leaking liquid, noises or a change in the way your vehicle handles.

    If possible you will need to re-secure the load before continuing, but you should not continue of you need help or advice on securing your load effectively. Loose loads carried in containers in particular will move when you are travelling up and down hills and can therefore temporarily overload axles.

    Hazardous loads

    If your drivers are transporting dangerous goods then you must provide information on the goods prior to loading the vehicle as well as emergency information and how to handle the load in an emergency or accident. The vehicle will need to be marked clearly to identify what is being carried by use of the correct symbol. Training and an ‘ADR Certificate’ should be provided on how to handle the load in different circumstances.

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