Truck Safety: Load Securement

Safe loading and unloading procedures cargo securement

Truck loading and unloading is a daily activity in many businesses. It is also a regular source of injuries to the driver, workers, and visitors. There have been numerous losses caused by improper loading and unloading practices. Employers have a responsibility to ensure they maintain a safe working environment. Forklift operators are also responsible for the safety of others in the unloading area. 
Many losses stem from materials falling off trucks and injuring drivers who are in close proximity to the vehicle during loading or unloading operations. This usually happens when a forklift operator is loading/unloading the materials from the opposite side of the truck from where the driver may be standing. The forklift operator does not have clear sight of the driver and in most cases is not even aware that the driver is on the opposing side of the vehicle. Pieces of lumber or even entire loads of materials can fall off the vehicle and strike the driver. This often results in serious personal injuries.

Accidents of this type can be easily prevented by establishing clear procedures in regards to loading/unloading.

ESTABLISH A LOADING/UNLOADING AREA:

  • Area should be level to help maintain the stability of the truck and trailer. The ground should be free of potholes and debris.
  • Area should be free of overhead electric lines.
  • Area should be clear of other traffic – vehicles or foot. Pedestrians, the truck driver, or other employees not involved in the loading/unloading process should be clear of the area.
  • Area should have sufficient lighting for early morning or evening loading or unloading.
  • If possible, the designated area should be a one-way route to prevent the need for vehicles to back up. If a driver is required to back the vehicle, a spotter should be used to protect pedestrians and property.

GUIDELINES FOR TRUCK DRIVERS:

  • When unloading, the driver should proceed to the designated area and remove tarps, straps or other load securement devices. Secure this material so it is not an obstruction to the forklift operator during the unloading process.
  • The driver should secure vehicle, apply brakes and turn off the engine, as appropriate, to prevent unsafe movement during the loading/unloading operation.
  • The driver should proceed to a designated area (safe zone) located away from the truck and outside of the loading/unloading area. The driver should remain in that area during the operation.
  • NO material should be loaded/unloaded, nor should any forklifts be operating in the area around the truck until the driver has completed all of the tasks above and moved to the designated safe zone.

While loading/unloading of material is an everyday activity at most operations, safety cannot be taken for granted. It is management’s responsibility to ensure that proper training and safe loading/unloading procedures are in place and enforced.

NOTE: All required PPE must be worn prior to starting any loading or unloading.

Loading/unloading checklist

GENERAL 
1. Is the truck/trailer correctly positioned and level?
2. Are wheel chocks in place?
3. Is there any damage to the truck or trailer?
4. Are the appropriate people and equipment available for loading/unloading?
5. Does the product require special lifts or a crane to handle the load?
6. Are load straps in good condition (not frayed, worn or torn)?

LOADING 
1. Has the driver been moved to the company safe zone?
2. Are all helpers in sight of the forklift/crane operator?
3. Are the load restraints suitable to secure the load?
4. Does the total weight of the cargo exceed the truck’s carrying capacity?
5. Is the load well packed in the appropriate packaging?
6. Is documentation completed for all cargo being dispatched?
7. Has the driver double-checked all restraints for specific load requirements?

UNLOADING 
1. Has any freight moved while in transit?
2. Are all items effectively secured to a pallet, cradle or flatbed trailer?
3. Are top-loaded items stable?
4. Could any freight move or become unstable when the load restraints are removed?
5. Has the driver been moved to the company safe zone?
6. Are all helpers in sight of the forklift/crane operator?

This is just a sample of a checklist and how to organize it to make sure you are thorough in safeguarding your business against loading/unloading hazards. After reviewing this checklist you should add any other items unique to your facility.

A good safety plan starts with having clear signs and procedures, good communication, as well as the proper equipment and training to load or unload cargo safely.