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Why Load Securing is Important

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This is an excerpt of information taken from Load securing: vehicle operator guidance produced by the Driver & Vehicle Standard Agency which can be seen here.


  1. Introduction
  2. Load securing: the basics
  3. Responsibility for load securing
  4. Consequences of poor load securing
  5. Enforcement
  6. Types of vehicles
  7. Types of loads
  8. Load securing solutions

1. Introduction

Why load securing is important

DVSA is responsible for lorry, bus and coach enforcement including:

  • roadworthiness - including both the vehicle and the load it’s carrying
  • traffic enforcement - including drivers’ hours and overloading

During 2013, DVSA issued over 2,000 prohibitions to vehicles which presented a road safety risk because of how their load was secured.



In the same period, the Highways Agency reported over 22,000 road impact incidents caused by objects falling from vehicles. This is dangerous to all road users.

This resulted in the closure of either a single lane or the full carriageway. On average, it takes 20 minutes to deal with each incident.

This places a significant financial burden on the UK economy from:

  • time wasted in traffic
  • damage to goods
  • damage to infrastructure.

About this guidance

This guidance has been produced by DVSA and representatives from the transport industry. The subject matters chosen were the areas causing the greatest industry concern.

This document doesn’t replace the more extensive guidance available in:

These more comprehensive documents underpin the current approach to enforcement and should be familiar to anybody involved in the movement of goods via the road network.

For the benefit of this guidance any reference to a vehicle should be read as any vehicle, trailer or combination unless specified otherwise.

Load securing systems

The load securing systems you use should be appropriate for both:

  • the loads being carried
  • the vehicles being used

These may include:

  • ‘over-the-top’ lashings
  • rear kites
  • intermediate bulk heads
  • direct lashing to specific anchor points

Whoever is responsible for loading a vehicle needs to consider other important factors like axle weights and vehicle stability. These are the fundamental requirements in making sure vehicles are safe before starting a journey.

2. Load securing: the basics

Make sure the vehicle is fit for purpose

You should consider the types of loads being carried when buying vehicles.

There are aftermarket products which can provide bespoke securing products to adapt vehicles to ensure they’re fit for purpose.

There are also specialist companies who can give advice on the right load securing system for your operation and the loads you carry. The relevant trade body for your business may be able to help their members.

Load the vehicle properly

Stack the load against the headboard with the centre of gravity as low as possible. Make sure it’s stable without lashings to reduce the risk of it falling over during unloading.

If the load isn’t stable by itself, think about how you can support it: put it in a box, stillage or transport frame.

If the load isn’t against the headboard - or items could slide over it - think about other ways you can stop the load from moving forward. You may need extra lashings, sails, chocks or blocking.

The headboard is a key part of the load securing system - fix any damage as soon as possible.

Choose the right securing method

Whatever method you choose, the load restraint system needs to secure the load to the vehicle chassis and prevent movement.

Not all loads or vehicles are the same. Choose a securing system that stops the load moving without creating other risks - like unnecessary manual handling and working at height.

Webbing straps or chains are often used to secure loads, but they aren’t right for every situation. For example fragile or live loads need different securing methods to prevent damage.

Use adequate load restraint

Incidents happen when drivers and operators underestimate how much restraint is needed to keep a load on the vehicle.

Dynamic forces are much higher than static forces. For example, more force is required to secure a load when it is moving (dynamic) than when it is stationary (static).

Communication is important

Fatal and serious injuries don’t usually ‘just happen’. Generally, there are some minor incidents and near misses beforehand.

Reporting these and other issues - such as restricted access to delivery sites - can help prevent a more serious situation in the future.

Give drivers clear information about:

  • the loads they carry
  • how to unload
  • what they should do if the load shifts

This is particularly important if the driver hasn’t loaded their vehicle or trailer. It’s useful for everyone involved if a loading plan is provided.

Load restraint system

The combined strength of the load restraint system must be sufficient to withstand a forwards force not less than the total weight of the load to prevent the load moving under severe braking, and half the weight of the load moving backwards and sideways.

Even at low speeds, the forces acting on a load when the vehicle is moving can be high enough for the load to move.

Heavy loads can and do move and the weight of the load alone should never be relied on to hold the load in place.

Once moving, forces to prevent the load from continuing to move are much higher than if the load was static.

3. Responsibility for load securing

General responsibilities

The driver isn’t the only person responsible for the safety of the vehicle and its load.

Everybody in the transport chain should make themselves aware of the rules set out in the DfT code of practice: safety of loads on vehicles.

You may also find the the European best practices guidelines on cargo securing for road transport (PDF, 24.9MB, 96 pages) helpful.

Stay up to date

DVSA regularly updates its ‘Moving On’ blog which gives official advice and information for lorry, bus and van operators and drivers. You can also sign up to get email alerts when new posts are published.

The trade associations also provide regular updates.

Health and safety

Employers have specific responsibilities under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to ensure the health and safety of:

  • their employees
  • anyone else affected by their work activities

Risk assessment

Risk assessment is a legal requirement that helps you to identify issues and take reasonably practicable steps to control the risks.

This should help reduce the chances of problems occurring, but you should think about what happens if the load shifts in transit.

Drivers shouldn’t be expected to deal with an unsafe load alone at the roadside.

Read guidance about risk management on the HSE website.

Responsibility for loading vehicles

If you’re responsible for loading vehicles, you should make sure that they’re loaded so the load remains in a safe condition during:

  • loading
  • transit
  • unloading

You should decide:

  • who will carry out the loading
  • what training they should have
  • how they will be supervised

Involve drivers in the loading process if possible

If the drivers don’t load the vehicle ideally they should be given the opportunity to observe the competent person loading the vehicle.

If it’s not appropriate for the drivers to watch the loading then they should be given information about how the load has been secured and/or given the chance to check the load prior to departure.

If a driver isn’t happy with how the load is secured or how stable it is, you should make sure that the load is:

  • assessed by a competent person
  • reloaded or resecured if necessary

Report load shifts

Drivers should be asked to report load shifts so that you can take action to deal with it safely and stop it happening again.

Loads can move even under normal driving conditions so don’t automatically assume the driver is at fault if the load shifts during a journey.

Appropriate method of load securing

You, or a competent person appointed by you, should decide on the most appropriate method of load securing for the load and the vehicle.

You should provide safe access (such as working platforms or access ladders) if the chosen method involves drivers or loaders accessing the trailer bed.

It’s good practice to involve those actually doing the loading in the decision-making process, as they may be able to identify practical solutions.

Loading plan

You may find it useful to develop a loading plan for the loads you transport.

It’s important to communicate with both the haulier and the delivery site when preparing the loading plan so that everyone knows what they’re responsible for.

You should think about:

  • how the load is to be unloaded
  • what happens if the load shifts in transit

Information about the load should be clearly communicated to the driver. You need to take account of possible driver handovers and language barriers.

A loading docket that travels with the load may help to communicate information to the haulier and the delivery site. This can be as simple as a sketch showing the position of the load and the load securing system.

The driver should be made aware of what’s expected of them at the delivery site, including things like whether they should:

  • report to security on arrival
  • stay in their cab during unloading or if they’re expected to help unloading

Responsibility for unloading vehicles

Many of the same principles will apply if you’re responsible for unloading vehicles.

You can help drivers and operators by providing clear information about:

  • what’s expected on your site
  • who’s responsible for what

Vehicles that arrive with a shifted load

You should think about what happens if a vehicle arrives at your site with a shifted load.

A vehicle in a potentially dangerous condition shouldn’t be sent back onto the public highway. It should be moved to a quarantined area where:

  • its condition can be assessed
  • a decision made about how best to unload it

Responsibility for hauling the load

If you’re responsible for hauling the load, you should make sure that:

  • you’re using a suitable vehicle for the task
  • the vehicle is loaded so that it’s safe for transport on the road

Communicate with suppliers, the delivery site and driver

You should communicate with both the supplier and the delivery site so that:

  • any issues can be identified
  • remedial action taken before they become problems

Wherever possible, drivers should be involved in the loading process. Their experience may help the loader(s) identify any problems before the vehicle sets out on its journey.

Secure the load

The load should be secured to the trailer before the driver takes it out on the road. You should:

  • agree the method(s) of load restraint with the supplier
  • make sure that the vehicle is suitable for the method chosen (like, for restraint bars you need to make sure that the correct type of side rail is fitted)

If loads are to be secured using webbing straps and/or chains, you need to make sure that they can be secured either:

  • directly to the chassis of the trailer
  • to rated attachment points

Rope hooks aren’t suitable attachment points. Straps and chains shouldn’t be used in the same assembly.

4. Consequenes of poor load securing

Death or serious injury

First and foremost, it can result in death or serious injury.

It can have serious consequences for the driver, other road users, and anyone involved with unloading the vehicle.

HSE statistics show that workplace transport is one of the highest risk work activities, accounting for over half of all death or injury incidents reported to HSE.

Many incidents are a direct result of poor load securing, for example:

  • items falling out of any vehicle when the curtain is opened for unloading and hitting someone stood next to the vehicle
  • items falling out of a vehicle during unloading, causing someone to jump out of the way and fall
  • poorly-secured loads collapsing or falling over during the journey so they have to be unloaded by hand, and someone then slipping over on the load bed or falling from the vehicle
  • damage to goods, property or the infrastructure, which will eventually be passed onto the consumer
  • damaged roads, which may themselves lead to more wear and tear on vehicles resulting in increased overheads for the operator

Damaged reputation

Your corporate reputation may well suffer if you’re involved in a load securing incident. This could be as a result of:

  • adverse publicity in the press
  • loss of contracts due to damaged goods etc


You could be prosecuted for causing the death of an employee or a member of the public due to negligence on their part.

Negligence could be viewed as ignorance or the lack of effective processes, like failing to comply with existing guidance. This can result in substantial fines for the company or individuals in the case of a partnership or sole trader.

5. Enforcement

How DVSA assesses how loads are secured

DVSA deals with load securing under the following laws:

DVSA examiners ask themselves a series of questions:

  • can the load slide or topple forwards or backwards?
  • can the load slide or topple off the side?
  • is the load unstable?
  • is the load securing equipment in poor condition?
  • is there anything loose that might fall off?
  • does the vehicle present an immediate likelihood of causing danger of injury due to its load security or stability?

The examiner will refer to the load security matrix if they answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions. The matrix helps them decide the appropriate course of action to take based on the risk.

Encourage drivers to ask these questions

You can encourage your drivers to ask the same questions before the start of any journey. This will:

  • help identify potential problems
  • make sure load securing remains high on the drivers’ agenda

Load security matrix

The load security matrix has 3 tables showing:

  • the risk represented by the type of load
  • the type of load securing used
  • what action to take based on where a load and its security fit within the previous tables

Risk represented by the type of load

This table shows examples of the different load types, but there are other kinds.

Load type A Load type B Load type C
Metal pipes, sheet or bar Timber Clothing
Reinforced concrete FIBCs/bulk powder Wood chip
Bricks, stone or concrete Roll cages Waste paper
Vehicles including scrap Bagged aggregate Coal bags
Plant machinery Empty skips stacked 3 high Bulk material (in tipper)
Reels including steel, wire or paper Heavy palletised goods Packaging material
Kegs and barrels   Single loaded skips
Stacked loaded skips   Empty skips less than 3 high
Empty skips stacked more than 3 high   Light palletised goods
Metal casings    
Containers or work cabins    

Type of load security used

Defect category 1 Defect category 2 Defect category 3
No load securing >30cm gap between load and vehicle headboard Lashings on ropehooks
> 1m gap between front of load and vehicle headboard Unsheeted load in bulk tipper or skip Minor damage to headboard not affecting structural integrity

Appropriate action

Load type Defect category 1 Defect category 2 Defect category 3
Load type A Prohibit Prohibit Advise
Load type B Prohibit Prohibit/Advise Advise
Load type C Prohibit Advise Advise

You can’t consider the vehicle’s headboard part of the load securing system if there are large gaps between it and the load. If there are, then you need to find other ways of preventing forward movement.

Prohibition and fixed penalty

A prohibition prevents the vehicle from being moved until the load securing problem is fixed.

When a prohibition is issued, the driver is given a fixed penalty notice.

The driver then has 60 minutes to fix the problem. If they can’t do this, then the DVSA immobilisation policy would be followed with a release fee incurred.

Penalty points

Penalty points aren’t routinely issued, but they can be in certain situations, for exmple where a vehicle is deemed to be in a dangerous condition due to the condition or suitable purpose, or weight, distribution, packing and adjustment of the load.

This offence carries 3 penalty points and a licence endorsement for the driver. The court may also give the driver an unlimited fine.

All vehicles with load securing issues are dangerous, but some are a more significant risk than others.

For example, no load securing on a flat-bed vehicle carrying a load of steel would be considered substantially more dangerous than a curtain-side vehicle laden with a few loose bags of clothing.

The vehicle carrying steel could result in a charge of dangerous condition, whereas a less serious offence might result in the driver being given advice or a verbal warning.

Other action

Depending on how serious the load securing breach is, DVSA can interview you about the issues found at the roadside. This action could result in either:

  • legal proceedings against you
  • a report to the Traffic Commissioner (TC)

Following consideration of any DVSA report, the TC may take regulatory action for failure to comply with the undertaking of an operator’s licence . Disciplinary action could include suspension, curtailment or revocation of your licence.

The TC also has the power to take action against a driver’s vocational licence, such as a suspension. Not only will this have an adverse impact on the driver, it might also create additional problems for the operator.

Prohibitions also adversely impact on an operator’s compliance risk score (OCRS).

6. Types of vehicles

Curtain-sided bodies and EN 12642 XL rating

Even with load retaining curtains, a standard curtain-sided vehicle or trailer body won’t normally give enough load securing.

The body structure and curtains only provide weather protection for the load. Load and secure goods the same as you would on a flatbed vehicle.

EN 12642 (BS EN 12642 in the UK) is a build standard for vehicle and trailer bodies. It sets out two types that can be built:

  • standard body types (L)
  • reinforced body types (XL)

Vehicle and trailer bodies don’t have to be built to this standard in the UK but XL bodies are a useful part of the load securing system.

Light goods

You can secure goods or unstacked pallets that weigh less than 400kg per item:

  • using buckle straps that hang from the roof of the body structure
  • with inner curtains - see light palletised goods

Treat goods and pallets over 400kg - and stacked pallets if the combined weight of the stack is more than 400kg - as heavy goods.

Heavy goods

Secure heavy goods that weigh more than 400kg per item or pallet with:

  • lashing
  • load-rated nets
  • tarpaulins with integral straps

Whatever method you use, it must be able to restrain half the weight of the load to the side and rear, and the full weight forward.

This is the minimum standard for normal road driving.

In most cases, the load carried and the body structure used will show the best way to secure the load.

Both the DfT and EU guides provide detailed instructions on how to secure different loads depending on things like:

  • materials
  • weight
  • friction between the load and the load bed

Tests on ordinary trailers show that the weakest point is the frame.

This highlights the limited benefits of attaching stronger curtains to ordinary trailers.

Trailers and vehicles built to the EN 12642 XL standard can withstand a minimum of 40% of the rated payload to the side - without extra load securing - when following the manufacturer’s guidance.

DVSA accept an EN 12642 XL rated vehicle/trailer keeping 50% of the rated payload to the side without any extra securing, as long as the load fills the entire load area to the front, rear and to within 80mm of the side. This is often called a ‘positive fit’.

It’s acceptable to fit lateral bulkheads or use packing material to fill any gaps in the load to guarantee positive fit when loading.

Using XL rated vehicles to transport diminishing or part loads isn’t ideal but it’s still possible as long as the following are met:-

  • any gaps created by a diminishing load are blocked keeping a positive fit

  • a partial load which doesn’t fill the load area has extra securing - this should be enough to meet the DfT rules: 50% to the side, rear and 100% to the front

For example, the use of rated lashing straps across the rear of the load must provide security for 50% of the entire load. This will secure the load in the same way as the rear of the vehicle would for a full load.

Or, the load should be secured as it would in a non-‘XL’ rated vehicle.

The EN 12642 XL standard refers to the entire vehicle or trailer and not just the curtains. So, reinforced curtains fitted to an ordinary trailer don’t meet the XL standard. There’s no such thing as an ‘XL curtain’.

XL-rated bodies have stickers in prominent positions - usually on the rear door or front bulkhead - to show they meet the standard.

The curtains of an XL-rated body also have to be built to EN 12641.

Stickers confirming this are usually found on the inside of the curtains at the rear of the body.

XL stickers should provide the following information:

  • confirmation that the body structure - not just the curtain sides - meets the EN 12642 XL standard
  • the name of the vehicle or trailer manufacturer
  • the year of manufacture

XL bodies are also given a certificate, specific to the vehicle tested, from the organisation responsible for testing vehicles and trailers to the standard.

The Vehicle Certification Agency does this in the UK.

There’s no need to carry this certificate with the vehicle or trailer. But you may find it useful to either provide a copy of the certificate or other documentation so they can be shown to enforcement authorities at the roadside.

Some vehicles are tested to a higher standard than EN 12642 so that they can carry larger or unusual loads. In these cases, DVSA expects you to be able to show the relevant certificate at the roadside.

Double-deck trailers

Double-deck trailers are designed to optimise the available space in trailers. This reduces the carbon footprint and improves efficiency.

These benefits have led to an increase in their use over the last few years.

Risks assessments and securing solutions

Working at height can be problematic on any vehicle, however double decks present particular problems.

Operators and consignors (the person sending a shipment) should make sure that a thorough risk assessment has been carried out to identify the most practicable means of loading and securing goods on the vehicle.

Securing solutions are available to help to mitigate the risks of working at height on double deck trailers. For example, netting and strapping systems that attach to the trailer roof and can be pulled into place over the load and secured to the vehicle chassis from ground level allow goods to be secured without accessing the load bed.

Carrying palletised loads

Double deck trailers often carry palletised loads. Individual laden pallets are known as:

  • ‘light pallets’ if they weigh up to 400kg

  • ‘heavy pallets’ if they weight over 400kg

Don’t use the upper deck for carrying stacked pallets or pallets weighing over 400kg.

Secure heavy pallets and stacked laden light pallets on the lower deck with rave to rave lashing or something similar.

Load securing on the upper deck

RHA, The Pallet Network (TPN) and the Association of Pallet Networks (APN) gave DVSA an acceptable solution on loading and securing for double-deck trailers:

Laden pallets on the upper deck of double-deck curtain-siders should be single-stacked; and weigh no more than 400kg each.

RHA, TPN, APN and enforcement bodies have agreed that the use of an extra internal curtain with integral straps designed to hug the load on the upper deck is a practicable means of mitigating the risks of falling objects during unloading and working at height.

This arrangement can be used by any operator or trailer manufacturer. It’s recommended particularly for new trailers, but can also be fitted retrospectively.

The benefit of the internal curtain with integral straps is that it contains the pallets more effectively than using internal straps alone. This improves safety both on the road and in the workplace.

Load securing on the lower deck

Generally speaking loads carried on the lower deck and swan neck of a double-deck trailer should be secured as if they were carried on a single deck trailer.

Your risk assessment may indicate that for light goods or crushable loads it’s practicable to use hanging straps or internal curtains on the lower deck.

Other methods of securing

This guidance is the minimum requirement needed to secure loads on existing double-deck trailers.

You can decide to use other methods of securing the load as well as those in this section, for example rated ratchet straps.

Rigid-sided vehicles

Vehicles with rigid sides are no different to any other vehicle when it comes to load securing. Load securing requirements still apply.

Gate-type systems

Most rigid-sided vehicles have a gate-type system. The security of the sides relies on ‘locking’ the sides to an anchor stanchion or stanchions fitted to the bed of the trailer.

These items must be kept in good condition. Any defects must be repaired at the earliest opportunity if the load securing relies on the sides of the vehicle.

Loads above the height of the sides

Loads stacked above the height of the sides of the vehicles need to be secured to the vehicle by other means - usually by over-the-top lashings. The sides of the vehicle can’t be relied upon to secure this type of loading.

Loads above the height of a vehicles sides can affect stability and will raise the centre of gravity.

Load shift

Box vans and rigid-sided vehicles offer some load security, but you need to consider the effect of a load shift on vehicle stability. Goods carried in containers should also be secured to prevent movement during a journey.

Stop loose items from falling

Tarpaulins or netting/sheeting should be used on tippers, bulk containers and skips to stop loose items from falling.

Goods shouldn’t be loaded over the height of the sides of the vehicle or skip.

Euroliner vehicles and trailers

Euroliner semi-trailers have an internal frame running down their length, usually hidden by standard curtain sides.

Different sized beams (made of aluminium or wood) can be placed in the frame, either lengthways - to strengthen the side - or across the width of the vehicle to separate the load.

The securing of light palletised goods - where each pallet or stack weigh no more than 400kg - on Euroline vehicles is accepted as sufficient when the these conditions are met:

  • the load bed is filled to prevent the contents from moving when in transit
  • the load is stacked against the headboard, or with any gap between the front of the load and the headboard packed to prevent it sliding forward
  • the gap between the sides of the load and the frame/beams is less than 80 mm (approximately 3 inches)
  • if the load doesn’t reach the rear doors, then additional measures are in place to stop backward movement
  • the beams and frame are in a serviceable condition, for example there are no cracks or obvious signs of damage, decay or rot
  • the beams adequately contain the load so that there is no risk of items falling from the trailer when the curtains are pulled back - for example the load can’t escape under, through or over the beams

Additional securing will be needed if:

  • the vehicle is used to carry palletised or stacked loads which are more than 400kg
  • the goods don’t fill the load area - to prevent uncontrolled movement of the load under normal driving conditions

Additional securing could include rated lashing (heavy duty) straps attached between raves (hooks), or other approved methods.

7. Types of loads

Overview of vehicle stability

The transport industry and the loads carried are extremely diverse, so it’s very difficult to provide generic guidance on load securing that covers everything.

Many sectors of the industry have specific problems which require bespoke solutions to follow the DfT and EC guidelines.

DfT and EC guides

The DfT and EC guides do cover the vast majority of situations that you’re likely to come across. They also include information on:

  • the impact of the coefficient of friction (COF)
  • how different materials move in relation to each other
  • the number of straps required to overcome the effect of different COF values

What vehicle loading affects

How a vehicle is loaded can significantly affect:

  • its handling on the road
  • the likelihood of the load moving or becoming unstable during the journey

It’s important to think about load distribution and load stability at the planning stage.

Centre of gravity

The centre of gravity of a loaded goods vehicle tends to be much higher than that of a passenger car. This makes a goods vehicle more likely to roll over than a car at the same speed.

Single items with a high centre of gravity (like large plant equipment) should be transported on low loaders to minimise the unbalancing effect.

Loads that move from side to side

Loads that are free to move from side to side within a vehicle can result in serious stability issues, even if the load is contained within the vehicle body.

The movement of live loads (like bagged sand or aggregate, hanging clothes or meat) can result in a ‘pendulum’ effect that quickly leads to vehicle rollover.


Rollcages can cause particular problems if they aren’t secured.

There have been instances where cages have:

  • rolled forward and punched through the headboard
  • rolled backwards when the driver opens the rear doors for unloading

Light palletised goods

Pallets are widely used to carry all manner of goods, mainly because they are a safe and convenient way to store and move goods around via fork lift trucks.

Individual laden pallets are referred to as:

  • ‘light pallets’ if they weigh up to 400kg
  • ‘heavy pallets’ if they weight over 400kg

Often the goods on the pallets are shrink wrapped to restrict movement during transit. However this wrapping doesn’t provide any load securing.

Transporting light palletised goods in curtained-sided vehicles

When deciding how to transport light palletised goods in curtain-sided vehicles, you should:

  • think carefully about the most appropriate securing method for the load
  • carry out a risk assessment that takes account of:
    • whether the load can be carried in a different body type
    • possible alternate securing methods that don’t crush/damage the load
    • the risks of working at height when securing the load compared to the likely risks due to the load moving

You need to secure the load to reduce the risk of harm as far as is reasonably practicable.

Stacked light palletised goods

Stacked light palletised goods need to be secured in the same way as palletised goods over 400kg.

The best way is to use over-the-top lashings secured to the vehicle chassis or rave-to-rave.

Securing some products may present additional challenges, particularly if they’re susceptible to strap damage (see crushable loads).

Light pallets on double-deck trailers

On double-deck trailers with inner curtains, light pallets should be carried on the top deck with heavier pallets or goods secured on the lower deck using over-the-top lashings.

Centre of gravity

Irrespective of the weight of a pallet, you should consider the centre of gravity.

Pallets with a high centre of gravity need extra strapping because of the potential for the load to be unstable, which increases the likelihood of movement during transit.

Loose items

Loose items (such as single pallets, pump trucks or chains) on flat beds need to be secured by other methods, as the internal strapping system or curtains will have no effect.

‘Load hugging’ curtains

Inner curtains tapered at the roof of the trailer are known as ‘load hugging’ curtains. These are used by some industries to secure the loads carried.

There will also be an outer curtain on these vehicles for weather protection as the inner curtains are constructed of nets and securing straps.

These vehicles and trailers are commonly found in the drinks industry and are covered extensively in the FTA guidance document (see the drinks industry).

Roll cages

Roll cages are frequently used to carry goods in all types of vehicles. These are becoming increasingly popular because they:

  • make it easier to move goods around
  • offer an element of security above that provided by pallets

Once loaded onto the vehicle they need securing to stop them from moving. This is often done using securing bars, lashings or other suitable methods.

Insecure roll cages can move around freely inside a vehicle load area. This can:

  • have a significant impact on the vehicle’s stability
  • damage the goods

This is a particular problem with partially loaded vehicles (see diminishing loads) and presents further problems when unloading. You should take appropriate steps to stop movement of the roll cages to the side, front and particularly to rear.

To prevent goods being damaged care should be taken to stack products within the footprint of the cage. Damaging the goods can lead to the loads becoming loose and causing further problems when off loading.

Crushable loads

Goods that could be damaged by rave-to-rave over-the-top lashings can be protected by using:

  • corner boards
  • edge protectors
  • wide strapping systems

These spread the load to allow the load to be secured to the vehicle bed.

Crushable loads could need extra protection (like shrink-wrap or other packaging) to be protected enough to be transported. Netting systems (with straps interwoven through the netting) can be used for these loads.

Other methods or other vehicle types may need to be considered for crushable loads.

Lightweight and fragile loads

There are some loads which are very unlikely to cause any load securing problems while in transit in curtain side vehicles, for exampe small amounts of polystyrene insulation.

It’s still important that the load is stopped from moving due to the danger to the person responsible for unloading the vehicle.

You might not be able to use traditional lashings because of the damage they would cause. However, internal straps may retain the load sufficiently dependant on the size of the objects.

You could also use some sort of internal frame or roll cage to provide the necessary securing. Make sure the frame itself is secure if you use this method.

Multi-drop or collection (diminishing loads)

The DfT code of practice requires 50% of the load to be secured to prevent rearward and sideways movement.

When an entire load is delivered in one drop using the appropriate securing, it’s quite straight forward. However, this becomes more difficult for vehicles involved in multi-drops or carrying diminishing loads.

Multi-site deliveries can cause issues with responsibility for the safety of the load.

Plan for the diminishing load

Diminishing loads should be accounted for at the planning stage.

You should develop a clear system of work and communicate it to all parties so there’s no misunderstanding about what should be done at each delivery.

Having enough appropriate securing

Dependant upon the type of vehicle used, parts of the load will either be removed from:

  • the side when using curtain-sided vehicles
  • the rear with rigid-sided vehicles
  • both from a flat bed

So it’s important that the driver has enough appropriate securing with them to be able to fix the problems caused by diminishing loads.

Load the vehicle correctly

The whole process can be made much easier if the vehicle is loaded correctly in the first place.

If the load is removed in a hap-hazard way, gaps may appear that could be detrimental to effectiveness of the load securing system. If this happens, the driver might find it easier to use dunnage or blocking to fill the gaps, and keep the integrity of the original security.

Reload the vehicle

The other way to keep safe would be to reload the vehicle and reapply the chosen securing.

This shows why it’s important to plan properly, load the vehicle correctly and make sure the driver has enough load securing equipment.

Diminishing load from the rear

A diminishing load from the rear causes extra problems, as the rear of the trailer won’t provide any security once the rearmost part of the load has been removed.

Loads can be secured by cross over straps, kites or sails to comply with the 50% requirement. The strapping needs to be maintained as the load diminishes or an intermediate bulkhead could be used.

Watch out for overloading

Drivers should be wary about axle overloads when removing large portions of the load from either the front or the rear. The remaining load may well need re-distribution to avoid these situations.

Bulk loads carried loose

You should carry loads like wood chippings, pellets and grain in solid-sided vehicles and curtain-sided vehicles specifically adapted for that use. These vehicles have additional strapping and covering to secure the load within the vehicle.

The likelihood of such items becoming insecure is unlikely if carried in a covered secure containing trailer.

Grain carriers and vehicles servicing the wood processing industry will have this type of vehicle. Most will have a blowing system fitted to the vehicle to load and unload the vehicle contents into a storage unit.

Standard curtain-sided trailers shouldn’t be used for this kind of load.

Equipment carried on vehicles

Equipment carried on vehicles (like Hiabs, fork lift trucks and pallet pump trucks) should be properly secured when not in use.

Lorry-mounted cranes (Hiabs)

Hiabs should be deactivated and correctly seated and not used as part of the load securing system.

Pallet pump trucks

Pallet pump trucks should be secured in the same way as the rest of a vehicles load, for example with lashings or other suitable methods.

Lorry-mounted fork list truck

Lorry-mounted fork lift trucks (often called ‘moffetts’) should be secured using the manufacture’s recommended instructions.




Empty or loaded skips can be carried on either:

  • dedicated skip lorries
  • flatbed vehicles

It’s recommended that skips are carried on skip lorries wherever possible, as it can be very difficult to adequately secure a skip on a flatbed vehicle.

Loaded or partly-loaded skips

Loaded or partly-loaded skips shouldn’t be stacked on top of each other for transport, even on a dedicated skip lorry.

The lower skip doesn’t provide a stable base and there is a risk of the upper skip/skips moving under sudden braking, or falling from the side of the vehicle under a combined steering and braking manoeuvre (for example, swerving to avoid another road user).


Lifting arms

Some skip lorries have a shaft connecting the upper ends of the lifting arms. This is used by some operators to ‘press down’ on stacked skips. This isn’t recommended. Using the lifting arms for load restraint can lead to fatigue, which could lead to cracking in the lifting arms.

Fatigue cracks can grow very slowly and the lifting arms will still operate normally. Eventually the crack will grow to the extent that there’s no longer enough strength in the arm to hold the weight of a skip, and sudden and unexpected failure of the lifting arm may occur.

The lifting arms of skip lorries should be inspected every 12 months by a competent person in order to comply with the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.

Flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs)

FIBCs, sacks and other bulk bags can become unstable during transport due to the loads settling. This could put the driver or anyone else unloading the vehicle at risk.

The most appropriate vehicle for this type of load would be a rigid-sided vehicle with securing supplemented by lashings.

Drop-side vehicles

When using drop-side vehicles, make sure the tail boards, hinges and any fastening mechanisms are in good condition.

You might also need to consider additional security if the load is higher than the side of the vehicle. Also consider using tarpaulins to prevent any loose loads being blown from the FIBCs.

Flat bed vehicles

These loads should be loaded to the headboard if they’re carried on flat bed vehicles. To stop movement to the side, use lashing straps with edging strips or some other method to disperse the pressure from the strap onto the load.

Tarpaulins rated for load securing with inter woven rated straps can also be used to provide effective security. Due to the nature of the load it is good practice to check for movement during a journey.

Curtained-sided vehicles

FIBCs carried in curtain-sided vehicle present similar problems and should be secured in the same way.

Other load securing solutions are also available which would be effective for FIBC such as wide straps suspended on bungee cord (see load securing solutions).

Open or unsealed FIBCs

You may need to put extra sheeting or tarpaulin over the top of the load to stop products from escaping the FIBC if they’re not sealed or closed.

Roping and sheeting

Roping and sheeting, used correctly, and using equipment in good condition, can be an effective way of securing FIBCs to meet the requirements of UK and European standards.

DVSA recommends that you use rope and sheets that have been strength tested and rated. This is so you can easily prove that the load is secured to enforcement authorities at the roadside.

The sheet should also fully contain the load, rather than resting on top of it.

Damaged or torn sheets, and frayed or worn ropes, should be replaced or repaired.

Vehicle transporters

You can move vehicles and plant equipment on specialised vehicles like:

  • car transporters
  • flatbed vehicles
  • low loaders

Moving cars and light vans up to 3,500kg on car transporters

Vehicles carried on car transporters should face forward, unless the loading scheme says otherwise.

Their weight should be distributed evenly across the width of the vehicle so the driver has enough space to work safely on either side.

Their centre of gravity should be over the lengthwise centre line of the transporter.

When loading, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. The parking brake should always be on after a vehicle’s loaded.

Car transporters have a high centre of gravity compared to many other types of goods vehicles. To reduce the risk of rollover, the heavier vehicles should be on the lower deck.

Use extra securing to prevent movement in transit. Securing is generally achieved through a mixture of blocking/chocking and webbing lashings.

The number of chocks and lashings used depends on the load. But as a general guide, there should be three points of contact between the vehicle and the transporter

vehicle on flat deck (facing forward) two wheels secured by chocks, preferably diagonally opposite, plus one lashing on either rear wheel
vehicle on flat deck (facing backward) two wheels secured by chocks, plus one lashing on either rear wheel and either front wheel, preferably both diagonally opposite
vehicle on angled deck three wheels secured, at least one must be by chocks plus one lashing: the other can be chocked or lashed
last vehicle on angled deck three wheels secured, two of which must be on the axle closest to the rear of the transporter: chocks and lashings should be used

If it’s impractical to use chocks for some vehicles on a transporter, an extra wheel can be secured with a lashing strap.

Some vehicle manufactures recommend that each wheel should be attached. You’re encouraged to follow this advice.

Lashings used to secure vehicles should be:

  • manufactured to the BS EN 12195-2 Standard
  • be rated for at least 1,500 daN
  • in a serviceable condition without obvious defects that would affect the strength of the lashing

Lashings should ideally pass over the wheel lengthways to hold the wheel down to the load bed.

The lashings should be attached to either dedicated attachment points or to the checkerplate floor, as long it’s in serviceable condition. Ratchets should be closed and locked.

Cars and light vans up to 3,500kg transported on flatbed or curtain-sided trailers

Flatbed trailers don’t have a superstructure to stop unintended load movement. Because of this more securing is needed.

Load vehicles as close to the headboard as possible, with the parking brake on.

vehicle on standard flatbed all four wheels secured with lashings: chocks on at least two wheels, preferably diagonally opposite
vehicle on recovery transporter trailer winch cable attached, plus lashings on at least two wheels, preferably diagonally opposite

If the design of the transporting vehicle makes it difficult to secure the wheels, use extra lashings.

Stacked scrap vehicles should be stable without lashings.

To stop the webbing being damaged by sharp edges, use webbing sleeves or something similar to protect any lashings passing over the stack.

Lashings used to secure vehicles should be:

  • manufactured to the BS EN 12195-2 Standard
  • rated for at least 1,500 daN
  • in good condition without obvious defects that would affect their strength

The superstructure and curtains of a standard curtain-sided trailer aren’t enough to provide load restraint for a vehicle. The vehicle must be secured as if it was being transported on a flatbed trailer.

A trailer constructed to the BS EN 12642-XL standard may provide some containment. But an XL trailer alone isn’t enough to prevent load movement. The reinforced body structure should be thought of as an extra safety measure rather than part of the load securing system.

Vehicles should be loaded as close to the headboard as possible - with the parking brake on - and chocked and lashed.

Transporting vehicles over 3,500 kg on car transporters

Generally, there should be four points of contact between the vehicle and the transporter, consisting of either:

  • two chocks and two lashing straps - preferably on diagonally opposing wheels
  • one chock and three lashing straps
  • four lashing straps, one on each wheel

Transporting vehicles over 3,500 kg on flatbed trailers

Ideally, vehicles over 3, 500 kg should be moved on low loader trailers so that the centre of gravity is as low as possible.

A high centre of gravity can affect the stability of the transporting vehicle and increase the risk of rollover or loss of control.

There should be four points of contact between the vehicle and the trailer, in the form of lashing straps on each wheel.

Chocks can be used for extra safety but shouldn’t be considered part of the load securing system.

Heavy goods vehicles

Ideally, tractor units and trailers should be moved on low loaders so that the centre of gravity is kept as low as possible. This helps to reduce the risk of rollover or loss of control.

Secure vehicles using a lashing system to prevent unintended movement. Chains are preferable.

The parking brake must be on and the wheels chocked or otherwise prevented from movement. For example, by placing the vehicle up against the swan neck.

Vehicles should be lashed using direct lashing. This means, one attached to the vehicle, and the other to the transporting low loader or flatbed.

There should be at least four lashings, secured as part of two opposing pairs. The angle of the straps or chains relative to the load bed should be as close to horizontal as possible.

Extra frictional lashing - up and over the load - using webbing straps can be used to increase the safety of the load.

If the vehicle has attachment points, use these for load securing. Also, attach lashings to rated attachment points on the low loader or flatbed load bed wherever possible.

Lashings shouldn’t be attached to sheeting hooks, as these aren’t strong enough to withstand the required forces.

If more than one trailer is carried by piggy-back, each trailer should be lashed to the trailer it’s carried on, and then to the transporting vehicle.

Plant equipment

Heavy wheeled plant should ideally be moved on low loaders so that the centre of gravity is kept as low as possible. This helps to reduce the risk of rollover or loss of control.

Secure vehicles using a lashing system to prevent unintended movement. Chains are preferable.

There should be at least four lashings, secured as part of two opposing pairs. The angle of the straps or chains relative to the load bed should be as close to horizontal as possible.

Extra frictional lashing - up and over the load - using webbing straps can be used to increase the safety of the load.

If the vehicle has attachment points, use these for load securing. Also, attach lashings to rated attachment points on the low loader or flatbed load bed wherever possible.

Lashings shouldn’t be attached to sheeting hooks, as these aren’t strong enough to withstand the required forces.

Ideally, vehicles should be loaded against the swan neck of a low loader or the headboard of a flatbed. This creates a physical barrier to movement besides the lashing system.

Chocks or lateral timbers can also help to prevent movement. Booms, jibs, buckets, grabs and other components should be separately secured to the transporting vehicle with one or more lashing.

Don’t rely on hydraulic pressure or any other form of stored energy to prevent movement.

There’s very specific guidance on securing plant vehicles in the DfT code of practice. You should bear in mind the rules contained in the Construction and Use Regulations about the maximum dimensions when any equipment is extended to the front or rear of the vehicle.

Scrap metal

Scrap metal, including scrap cars, should be transported with care. It’s a high-density load and may contain sharp edges that can cut through webbing lashings.

It’s recommended that you use chain lashings for this type of load.

8. Load Securing Solutions

Overview of load securing solutions

Since the DVSA and Health and Safety Laboratory initiative on load securing there has been a large increase in the number of load securing solutions available.

These range from systems which reduce the risk of working at height including lashings suspended from bungee cords to specially designed extendable poles used to help the driver.

The following have also become more readily available:

  • wider lashings
  • kites
  • sails
  • friction mats
  • edge protectors

All of these are valuable tools to help you secure awkward loads to vehicles to reduce the risk of load movements and associated road safety problems.

Securing equipment

All equipment used to secure a load to a vehicle should be in a good serviceable condition.

Damage to securing equipment

Damage to the equipment should be reported and the equipment replaced as soon as reasonably practicable.

Spare equipment

Spare equipment should be carried to allow the driver to:

  • supplement the load securing if required
  • replace any lashings which have become damaged during transit or where a third party has secured a load inadequately

Inspecting equipment

You should regularly inspect the state of the vehicle headboard or any other internal bulk head (if used).

Curtains should be inspected and where rips are identified they should be repaired as these will compromise the curtains ability to contain a load should a load shift occur.

Equipment not in use

When not in use, the equipment should be stored safely or secured to prevent it falling from the vehicle during transit.

Headboards and bulk head

The DfT code of practice requires that the load securing systems used should be able to withstand a force not less than 100% of the load to the front.

Generally, but not exclusively, vehicles will rely on a headboard/bulk head or intermediate bulk head to provide this security.

Inspect the headboard regularly

You should regularly inspect the headboard to make sure it’s in good condition.

Different types of headboard

Different vehicles have different types of headboard and not all are suitable to retain 100% of the load. You should make sure that the headboard fitted to your vehicle is strong enough for the load being carried.

Put loads as close to the headboard as possible

To take the full advantage of the bulkhead/headboards loads should be located as close to the bulkhead as possible.

However this might not always be possible due to the potential for exceeding weights or due to the nature of the load itself.

Fill the gap between the load and headboard

In situations where the load isn’t located up to the headboard then ideally suitable blocking or dunnage should be used to fill the gap.

The type of blocking used will be dictated by the load carried and the size of the gap, for example the larger the gap the more robust the blocking would need to be.

In some circumstances it would be appropriate to use additional lashings to secure the load rather than blocking.

Height of the load

Another issue to consider is the height of the load in relation to the height of the headboard.

Where a vehicle is laden with a large indivisible load the headboard can provide support as long as the load can’t topple over the height of the headboard.

If the load could topple over the headboard then additional securing will be required, such as cross strapping to the front, if indeed the chosen vehicle is suitable for the load.

Items above the headboard

Individual items which are above the headboard (such as scaffolding pipes or large wooden planks) will need either:

  • extra suitable securing to increase the down force
  • an intermediate bulkhead

Rope hooks

Rope hooks are for securing sheeting to the vehicle, with ropes or nets attached to protect the load from the weather.

They shouldn’t be used as an anchor point to secure over-the-top straps or chains.

Drivers who have traditionally ‘roped and sheeted’ a load using the ‘klinch’ or ‘drivers’ knot can use the rope hooks to secure the load to the vehicle if this system is sufficient to do so.

Many drivers don’t have the knowledge or ability to rope and sheet as more effective systems have become available.

Check ropes regularly

The ropes should be:

  • rated and marked as such
  • inspected regularly to identify any damage

Ropes showing signs of wear should be replaced at the earliest opportunity.

Over-the-top lashings

Over-the-top lashings should never be attached to the rope hooks. The tensioning of the lashings could:

  • damage the hooks
  • cause the load to become insecure

Lashing straps should attach either directly to the vehicle chassis or rave.

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