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Useful tips on load securing in commercial vehicles

Useful tips and tricks for professional load securing in commercial vehicles.

“You need to think correctly to work correctly.”

Siegfried Wache

Load securing – not to be neglected!

For many people laws and regulations often have a lingering after-taste. But when it is a question of load securing, statutory provisions are not just nice to have! A task that is frequently seen as a time-consuming duty can quickly turn into a life-saving measure in road traffic, as unsecured or inadequately secured loads on transport vehicles represent a major hazard for their occupants and other road users.

This means that load securing is an important issue for tradespeople, which cannot be pointed out often enough!

Despite the statutory provisions, studies show that load securing is still an issue that is frequently underestimated. According to the GDV (German Insurance Association – Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft e. V.), which, with the police, has performed load securing inspections on the country’s motorways for many years, in 70 per cent of cases the load has either not been adequately secured or not secured at all (http://www.tis-gdv.de/tis/pub/lshb/ladungssicherungshandbuch.htm).

How come?

Ignorance of the law is no defence: Anyone who fails to secure a load remains liable!

“Heavy loads are adequately secured by their weight alone.”

This assumption is quite simply wrong! According to the law, every load in a transport vehicle must always be secured to prevent it from toppling over, slipping or falling during normal driving (including emergency braking and evasive manoeuvres).

The following example illustrates the devastating consequences that may result from failure to secure even small objects in a vehicle:

At an impact speed of 50 km/h, a mobile phone weighing 300 g will fly though a vehicle interior with a force of over 29 kg. A mobile phone therefore develops forces that are almost 100 times those of its own weight.  (Source: https://www.bussgeldkatalog.org/ladungssicherung/)

Why are so many people still driving vehicles on our roads when load securing still seems to be a foreign concept to them despite the high risk of an accident caused by unsecured loads?

There are several reasons for this: Apart from ignorance of the statutory provisions and the laws of physics governing the proper securing of goods in transit, additional factors that come into play include time and cost, with both needing to be expended to ensure that loads are appropriately secured.

An integrated load securing system does not generally form part of a van’s basic equipment and has to be independently retrofitted by the fleet manager or tradesperson. Manufacturers of commercial vehicles offer standard solutions, but they are only adequate up to a certain degree. When fully laden, something that is probably the case with most commercial vehicles, a load needs to be comprehensively secured, and this costs both time and money in terms of procurement.
Yet when it comes to load securing, neither expense nor effort should be spared! 

Who is responsible for securing loads in a vehicle?

“The driver bears sole responsibility.”

Yes and no!
If you carry loads in your van, you are responsible for ensuring that they are properly secured.

However, the law holds all persons involved liable for guaranteeing proper and adequate securing of loads in transport vehicles. This means that the driver, as well as the loader and the fleet manager are responsible for making sure that any goods transported are secured to prevent them from slipping, toppling over, falling and rolling around in the vehicle.

This imposes fundamental obligations on the driver, loader, vehicle owner and fleet manager, which we have summarised in the form of a check-list:

  • All securing equipment in perfect working order
  • Driver is suited to the task and has undergone training
  • Vehicle is suitable for transporting the goods:
    • Compliance with the permissible gross load weight
    • Vehicle has adequate ventilation (floor and roof vents) if transporting gases
    • Load area swept clean
    • Lashing options are appropriate for securing the load and provide sufficient load-bearing strength
  • Load is secured from slipping and toppling over
  • Load must not adversely affect vehicle handling or stability (attention must be paid to the centre of gravity of both the vehicle and load as well as the permissible gross load weight of the vehicle)
  • Secure positioning of the load in the event of emergency braking or special impact to be checked

A basic understanding of the laws of physics is thus essential here to avoid breaking the law due to improper and inadequate load securing: Carrying goods affects a vehicle’s tipping behaviour on bends, and also significantly increases its braking distance. In addition, the permissible total mass must be taken into consideration, as well as the permissible axle load of the vehicle.

Below are some fundamental principles of the physical forces that occur during vehicle motion

The illustration shows the different forces that act on goods when a vehicle is driving and how they need to be counteracted with appropriate load securing measures:

FG = weight force of the load (a load with a mass m = 100 kg corresponds to an approximate weight force of FG = 100 daN)
Acceleration = 0.5 x FG acting rearwards on the load
Braking = 0.8 x FG acting forwards on the load
Cornering = 0.5 x FG acting laterally on the load

Calculation of the securing forces (= FS: load has to be secured against this force)

Inertia force [daN] = FG x C
μ friction force [daN] = FG x μ
Securing force FS [daN] = inertia force – friction force

The securing force must be absorbed by load securing equipment when the vehicle is in motion.

Example: A load weighing 100 kg is to be secured. μ = 0.3 is calculated according to the table. The securing force forwards is to be calculated, which must be absorbed by load securing means in the direction of travel:

  • Inertia force = FG x c = 100 daN x 0.8 = 80 daN
  • Friction force = FG x μ = 100 daN x 0.3 = 30 daN

FS = inertia force – friction force = 80 daN – 30 daN = 50 daN

What’s the right way to do it then?

Professional load securing – how it’s done

There are two methods of professional load securing available to ensure the proper and adequate securing of loads in commercial vehicles:

Load securing via friction locking:

Load securing via friction locking, also known as “lashing down”, is achieved with the help of lashing equipment, which press the load down onto the load area (e.g. by means of a lashing strap with a ratchet turn buckle), and thus increases friction. A minimum of two tensioning belts should be secured over the load.

To increase the contact pressure, the lashing angle α should be as close to 90° as possible. However, with this method of load securing, the contact pressure only acts to intensify the friction force between the load and load area. We therefore recommend positive locking when securing a load.

Positive locking load securing: Positive locking is better than friction locking!

With positive locking, the goods are loaded into the vehicle as tightly as possible, i.e. against the front, rear or side walls. If this is not possible, the load must be additionally blocked using securing aids or lashing equipment to fix it in place.

This can be in the form of restraint poles, locking bars, square loading bars or load safety nets. Lashing devices can be used to additionally secure the load either by strapping it down, as described above, or using positive-locking lashing methods, also known as “direct lashing”. In this case, the load is held directly in place by the lashing devices, not by friction alone. For this reason direct lashing is preferable to lashing down, where possible.

 

Loads can be directly lashed down by positive locking extremely easily, quickly and reliably using a tested load safety net. There is also an option of securing the load to lashing rails mounted on the side panels or dividers by positive locking.

One very effective positive-locking lashing method is head lashing, which is frequently used with extremely heavy loads. In this case, we always recommend employing a combination of load securing methods. Selection of the equipment and appropriate lashing method always depends on the type of load involved.

Benefits of professional load securing

Apart from all the regulatory aspects, professional load securing also offers tradespeople major benefits in their day to day work:

Saves costs

An adequately secured load provides protection to the vehicle’s occupants as well as to the goods carried inside. It minimises the cost of materials damaged through failure to secure goods in transit in the proper manner.

Saves time

Professional load securing gives the vehicle driver a feeling of security, but also saves the loader around 20 per cent of the time he previously spent elaborately securing goods in a van. This can amount to as much as 1.5 hours each day.

And that’s not all, as there are also fewer accidents!

In turn, this also minimises insurance premiums and reduces absenteeism due to accidents. Professional load securing thus cuts down the number of hours worked, reduces industrial accidents and costs, while helping to boost the profitability of tradespeople. It is the responsibility of fleet managers and operations managers to encourage their staff to think again by acting in a responsible manner, making our roads safer in the long term.

Products for quick and easy load securing

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