Gauntlet says the insurance claims history of many truck operators could be greatly enhanced if they paid more attention to the security of their load and the risks that surround it.
At the same time, it is reminding HGV fleet managers of their legal requirement to ensure the utmost effort goes into keeping cargo secure, under the terms of the Road Traffic Act 1991, which added load safety provisions to the Road Traffic Act of 1988.
Safety surrounding the unloading and loading of the cargo is also regulated by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, requiring operators to ensure that such operations are part of their risk assessments and that employees are trained in key skills, such as working at height, lifting and slips and trips.
Despite this tight legal framework, there are 4000 successful prosecutions relating to unsafe loads in the UK every year, whilst many thousands more go unreported.
Spilling loads can not only endanger the lives and safety of other road users, but also result in infrastructure repairs and environmental pollution, which could see fines handed out to those proved negligent. Under the Water Resources Act 1991, for instance, a maximum fine of £20,000 can be levied if a fallen load pollutes controlled waters.
Gauntlet says paying attention to loads should be part of a haulage company’s culture and embedded within its risk assessment practices in such a way that all parties in the loading, driving and unloading processes are aware of their responsibilities.
The commercial insurance broker recommends that hauliers involve drivers fully in the loading process, as the load is the driver’s responsibility whilst on the road. They are expected to maintain a watching brief over it, checking on whether a load has shifted after heavy breaking or swerving, monitoring the tension in any securing ropes and checking for tell-tale signs of load shifts, such as bulges in curtain-sided lorries.
The first step towards better load management can be getting to grips with the way in which the driver performs on the road. Late braking, driving too close to other vehicles, last-minute manoeuvres and careless cornering, can all cause issues with loads. Tools like Gauntlet Driver Monitor can be invaluable when it comes to monitoring driver behaviour, and also culture, bearing in mind that drivers may have learned to drive overseas.
Comprehensive training, through a means that increases the memorability of safety messages is also advised. Here, Gauntlet can assist in a variety of ways – toolbox talks, meaningful risk assessments and module-based and lower-cost training via Gauntlet E-learning.
E-learning means undertaking training at a time and place to suit. Videos and animations are woven together to create scenes featuring typical scenarios in which safety issues can arise. The trainee is then guided as to how the individuals encountering such scenarios should act. The messaging is verbal, visual and memorable and can traverse language barriers.
Gauntlet’s managing director, Roger Gaunt, says: “Whilst prohibition notices, vehicle immobilisation, fines and clean-up costs are just some of the eventualities to avoid through better load management, having demonstrable safe practices to show to a prospective insurer are the best way to lower insurance premiums on a consistent basis.
“The savings that can accrue from better risk management around such a key aspect of haulage are significant and well worth pocketing, as the bi-product of essential practices that will keep drivers, other road-users and members of the public safe, whilst also assisting the haulage business’s legal compliance.”
To take a load off your mind, find out more about training, and learn how better managing loads and health and safety can reduce your insurance premiums, call Gauntlet on 0113 244 8686 or visit www.gauntlethaulageinsurance.com