As an occupation, truck driving accounts for the highest proportion of both worker fatalities and serious claims in Australia. Within the freight transport sector, being hit by moving objects accounts for 7% of fatalities, while being trapped between stationary and moving objects accounts for a further 3%. Safe load restraint plays an important role in reducing statistics just like these.
Correctly restraining heavy vehicle loads reduces the likelihood of serious injury and fatality and also prevents unnecessary vehicle damage, road obstructions and congestion. According to Paul McDonough, RTO Manager for Coates Hire Training, transporting equipment is one of the highest-risk activities that the company performs, making the safe transport of equipment a key priority for the business.
“The most precious cargo in any heavy vehicle is the driver who sits directly in the line of fire, so for their safety it’s critical we get load restraint right,” Paul says. “Load restraint is an important part of keeping our customers’ people and businesses and other road users safe, too.”
Here’s a refresher on load restraint requirements in Australia, as well as the importance of training and education in keeping people safe.
Who is responsible for load restraint?
Load restraint safety is everyone’s business.
Under the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL)*, anyone across the supply chain who conducts, controls or influences transport-related activities is responsible for complying with load restraint laws. In the event of a HVNL breach, each party in the Chain of Responsibility can be charged with the offence.
So if you’re driving, packing, loading or unloading heavy vehicles, overseeing or employing people to perform any of these tasks, it's important that you know your legal requirements and understand the basic principles of safe load restraint. For more detailed guidance, refer to the National Transport Commission’s (NTC) Load Restraint Guide (2018).
Legal requirements for load restraint
Some basic legal requirements apply to heavy vehicle load restraint in Australia. The Heavy Vehicle (Mass, Dimension and Loading) National Regulation, or MDL regulation, is one of fours sets of regulations that underpin HVNL. According to this regulation, all loads must:
In 2018, updates were made to Schedule 7 to include load restraint Performance Standards, to ensure all load restraint systems are engineered and tested for reliability.
Saving lives through education
In early 2021, charges were laid against a South Australian manufacturing company for a failure to comply with the HVNL. A lack of load restraint education was cited as a primary cause. Although there were no fatalities or serious injuries, this incident highlights the importance of understanding load restraint requirements and providing sufficient workforce training.
By offering two nationally recognised training courses, Coates Hire’s Registered Training Organisation supports a wide range of customers in working safely and meeting their transport safety obligations.
“Our nationally recognised competency-based courses are designed for people who load, transport and unload plant and cargo with Duty of Care offerings for managers who have a legal requirement to understand load restraint,” says Paul. “We can also contextualise these training courses and develop bespoke material around individual customer needs.”
Guides and resources
Furthering its commitment to safe transport practices, Coates Hire recently partnered with Engistics Engineering to publish two detailed industry guides. The Load Restraint Guide and Drivers’ Guide offer support to those involved in transporting construction equipment and mobile plant. Other useful information can be found in the NTC’s Load Restraint Guide (2018) and on the HVNR website.
*HVNL is enforced in all Australian States and Territories, except Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
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