Trailer loading – think about it in advance!

The securing of all cargo for transport on the road, including agricultural products and equipment, is regulated and policed by Section 40A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 legal regulations, and Regulation 100 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.

The Act contains general descriptions of not causing “danger” or nuisance” to a person or vehicle on the road; these instructions are unhelpful and open to interpretation.

The information sheet provided to support Regulation 100 says that the requirement is general in nature, as anything more specific would be impracticable given the wide variety of loads and the equally large number of different vehicle types upon which they can be carried.

Regulation 100 requires that a vehicle should not be used or loaded in such a way that it endangers either those using the vehicle or other road users. It requires that a load is suitably secured so that it is not likely to either fall or be blown off the vehicle.

To assist road users, Code of Practice on the Safety of Loads on Vehicles offers guidance on the safest way to carry and restrain loads on vehicles. Whilst the Code is not a legal document the Police will often use it to support a prosecution, but it does not contain a section on agriculture.

If road users are in any doubt about their legal obligations, they should take independent legal advice.

To help farmers stay within the law during the coming months of harvest, consider the following:

• What is the weight of your cargo load.

• The combined force of the load restraint system (e.g. lashings, headboard, dunnage etc) needs to prevent forward, backward, and sideways movement of any load that requires securing.

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

• Select the correct number and tension force of lashings e.g. strapping belts to suit your load in order to prevent forward, backward, and sideways movement of the load.

• The lashings and fastening devices should be in sound condition and must be capable of withstanding all normal forces.

• It is most important that lashings which provide forward restraint are as near to the horizontal as possible and never at an angle of more than 60 ̊. Where lashings are at an angle of 60 ̊ the total lashing force required to prevent a mass from moving forwards is 2 x cargo mass if there is no other means of restraint (e.g. headboard) and 1 x cargo mass sideways or rearwards. If the lashing was 85 ̊ to the horizontal, the force required to prevent the mass moving forward would need to be 11.5 x cargo mass. There should be at least one lashing every 1.5m along the length of the load.

• Lashings used to restrain the load must always be attached to anchorage points that have sufficient strength to absorb the expected loading. Any restraint system is only as strong as its weakest component.

• Rolls or cylindrical items (possibly hay or silage bales) should ideally be placed with their axis across the vehicle so that the rolling tendency will be to the front or rear. In many circumstances additional dunnage, stopping blocks or wedges should be used, particularly on rounded sections where there is a tendency for roll to take place. This dunnage should be regarded as supplementary to the webbing restraints whose total strength should not be reduced because of its use.

For more detailed guidance please refer to the Code of Practice on the Safety of Loads on and/or seek legal advice.

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