It is not rocket science, but getting it right is vital, the principles behind load restraint are simple. The trucking operation needs to ensure that the load put on the trailer stays on the trailer, it must not come off while the truck is travelling down the road. Essentially, this is also what the operator wants to happen, the operator needs to get the goods from A to B in a safe and sound condition.
The trucking industry is now on the third edition of the Load Restraint Guide (LRG3) which is published by the National Transport Commission and available from its website.
“People can sometimes get a bit confused,” says Greg Brown, MaxiTRANS Engineering Support Manager. “The rules haven’t changed in the latest Load Restraint Guide, it’s just a better presentation, it’s easier for people to read and there are a lot more pictures.”
The law is based upon a performance-based approach with g-forces being used to quantify the restraint requirement. Any load needs to have a restraint system that can provide a force equal to 80 per cent of the load in the forward direction, 50 per cent sideways and rearward. There is also a requirement for a force at 20 per cent of load weight to hold the freight down if it is not contained, which is normally catered for with straps.
“The load can move, you are making sure it doesn’t fall off,” says Greg. “If you read the rules, the freight can’t hit the road, and if it does, you’ve failed. You can’t upset the weight distribution of the vehicle, but the load is allowed to move. Trying to stop it moving is the aim, but if it does move a little bit, that’s OK.
“It’s covering a whole range of different freight tasks with the same rule book,” says Greg. “People get into trouble when they don’t read the rulebook. They might want to hold down a two tonne pallet of Coke, so they think they need a two tonne rated strap. That’s a misconception. Often, we get people telling us they need five tonne straps, and when we ask them why, they say they are going use them to hold down a five tonne item. You don’t need a five tonne strap.
“Really, in that case, load restraint is the friction on the floor, you are clamping the load to the floor and creating some friction so it grips and doesn’t slide around. You are stopping the load bouncing off the floor, increasing the downward force and increasing friction, that’s what stops it moving.”
The other way of restraining a load is to contain it, putting a fence around, so that it can’t move. Load restraint curtains or gates can hold the freight in place, forming a barrier to keep the load safe. The same containment comes from the walls of a tipper.
“A lot of people don’t understand the g-force requirements and often they don’t understand the importance of the angles,” says Greg. “I see trucks going down the road and see a tractor on the back of a trailer with the chains going straight down, and they don’t understand why the chain has busted failed due to the bounce and that they don’t comply.
“All of that is well explained in the guide, but many people don’t read it. The Load Restraint Guide is easy to understand and there are pictures and diagrams, with lots of examples. Operators should refer to the resource which has been provided.
“I have done demonstrations and shown people how a two tonne strap will hold down a five tonne block of rubber, but won’t hold down a 300kg length of round bar, sitting in the middle of a floor. It’s not the strap rating, it’s how it’s applied, and people have trouble with that.”
Importantly, for those up and down the supply chain anyone involved in packing, loading, moving or unloading a vehicle, is deemed to be responsible for complying with load restraint laws. The load must stay securely on the vehicle under normal driving conditions and if it comes off, this is regarded as evidence the loader/operator has breached the law.