Recently unrestrained loads have become a focus of Police Forces and Traffic Authorities around the country. The requirements for correctly restrained loads are outlined in the Transport Operations Act 1995,(Road Use Management- Mass, Dimensions and Loading Regulation 2005). Appropriate methods to restrain loads, are explained in the National Transport Commissions Load Restraint Guide(2004).
If you don’t restrain a load properly you might cause an accident if:
- objects fall from your vehicle on to other traffic or pedestrians
- other drivers swerve to dodge items that are falling or have fallen from your vehicle
- loads that have spilled onto the road cause other vehicles to skid and lose control
- uncovered loads crash into your vehicle cabin during emergency braking
- loads that aren’t restrained properly shift and contribute to your car rolling over.
The load restraint laws apply to all vehicles regardless of their gross vehicle mass. Consigners, loaders and receivers also have a responsibility to make sure that the load restraint requirements are met.
If you don’t secure your load properly you may get a fine or, for a serious breach, be prosecuted in court.
Depending on which State you are in, fines for unrestrained loads start at $233 and 2 demerit points.
How to properly secure your load
Different loads should be transported differently. There are general checks you can do, but the way you carry a load will depend on the load itself.
- Bundle similar items together, in a more stable single unit
- Use restraints when packing wooden boards; anti-slip matting prevents items from sliding, especially long items
- Ropes can be difficult to keep tight across your load. When available use webbing straps as they can be more effective and are simple to use.
- Nets and tarpaulins may be used to restrain lighter items
- Loose sheets of building materials may be restrained by fitting them tightly in trays and then securing them properly with restraints
- Make sure heavy items are not loaded on top of lighter items
- Most headboards and loading racks aren’t strong enough to fully restrain heavy loads
- Use metal or heavy-duty plastic top corner protector angles to protect cartons
- High and narrow items such as stacks of smaller cartons usually need more than one restraint
- Fill spaces and gaps between piles with other items and make sure these are restrained as well
Appropriate load restraint methods
The National Transport Commission’s Load Restraint Guide outlines the best ways to restrain and cover different types of loads.
The guide gives information on how to restrain your load depending on what type of vehicle you drive and the size and weight of the load. If you use the methods for load restraint from the guide, your load will be:
- placed so that your vehicle doesn’t become unstable
- secured so that it is unlikely to fall from your vehicle.
While the load restraint methods shown in the guide are not the only way to restrain a load, they are examples of methods that have been shown to meet the load restraint performance standards.
If you wish to restrain your load by another method not included in the guide, we recommend that you refer to Part 2 of the Load Restraint Product Bulletin and consult with a suitably qualified engineer to ensure your method meets the performance standards.