Guide To Best Practice Load Restraint, Tyre Management

Tech guru Adam Ritzinger unpacks HVIA’s two new training courses, explains their relevance under Chain of Responsibility, and highlights the safety case for getting it right

Having effective training that equips staff with the right knowledge and skillsets is the foundation of every safe work practice.

This is the premise of HVIA’s ‘Safety Through Education’ project, funded by the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative, supported by the Australian Government.

The project has delivered two comprehensive online training courses covering best practice for two safety critical areas for heavy vehicle operations – load restraint and tyre management.

Tyre management and load restraint are critically important under CoR laws and general safety

The aim was to transform the volumes of written guidance information into an accessible, immersive, and practical online format. While good quality information is readily available, it is often widely scattered, which leads to knowledge gaps in the industry.

This edition of ‘The Tech’s Files’ unpacks each of the two new training courses, explains their relevance under Chain of Responsibility, and highlights the safety case for getting it right.

Critical Links In The Chain

The concept of Chain of Responsibility (CoR) is not new. It was formalised in dedicated laws in most states in 2014 but existed in some form in other laws prior to that.

Even though there are some variations in the CoR provisions that exist in different states, the basic premise remains the same. Safety duties are imposed on parties in the supply chain, with respect to that party’s involvement in transport activities.

Loads not adequately restrained or packaged may move or become loose during a journey

Are load restraint and tyre management within a party’s transport activities? Without any doubt. The actual responsibilities on each party vary and are unique to each transport task, but typically include areas such as policies/procedures, training, daily inspections, documentation, and regular compliance checks.

In all cases, a detailed review of the transport task from end to end is needed before specific responsibilities and actions are set. The review should identify every party, list where they have control and influence on each aspect of the transport task, and set reasonably practicable activities that ensure the task is completed safely.

Best Practice Tyre Management

Separate to the legal case, the safety case for getting tyre management right is paramount. The tyre is the only piece of equipment on a vehicle that is in contact with the road and it is the only real means by which a vehicle can safely accelerate, steer, and most importantly, brake

If the tyres or wheels on a vehicle are not functioning correctly, a vehicle’s handling, manoeuvrability, and stopping distance may all be negatively impacted, possibly to the extent that the vehicle becomes unsafe to drive. Any of the following aspects of tyre and wheel management could be to blame:

  • Improper inflation pressure (eg too low, or too high);
  • Mismatched inflation pressure between tyres in a dual tyre set;
  • Tyre tread worn past its wear limit; and
  • Unsecure fixings connecting the wheel to the axle.

Underinflated tyres are the leading cause of tyre blowouts, which are a critical safety concern as they can trigger run-off-road and rollover incidents.

Trailer (left) and drive axle (right) tyres fitted to a linehaul B-double trailer set

In its 2020 Major Accident Investigation Report, National Transport Insurance (NTI) analysed the causes of truck crashes resulting from mechanical failure, and found that steer tyre failure (blowout) contributed to more than half (52.9 per cent) of all mechanical failure crashes, and failure of tyres at other positions contributed to an additional 5.9 per cent.

This means that tyre failure of some sort was the cause of almost two-thirds of all mechanical failure crashes.

Breakdown of mechanical failure crashes by sub-cause (Source: NTI, 2020)

So how do parties in the chain get it right? HVIA reviewed the available material and identified seven key principles that together form the basis of best practice in tyre management:

  • Principle 1 – choose tyres and wheels that are fit for the task;
  • Principle 2 – regularly check tyre pressures;
  • Principle 3 – regularly examine tyre and wheel condition;
  • Principle 4 – wheel balance and alignment;
  • Principle 5 – setting appropriate inspection intervals;
  • Principle 6 – repairs, and storing tyres and wheels and other parts; and
  • Principle 7 – procedures, responsibilities, training, and equipment.

These principles are explained in detail in the new online course, supported by diagrams, graphics, animations, and videos.

Load Restraint Fundamentals

Just like tyres and wheels, getting load restraint right is of critical importance. All loads are subject to forces that arise from a wide range of normal driving situations – accelerating, braking, cornering, sloping or bumpy road surfaces, and even air flow over the vehicle. Loads not adequately restrained or packaged may move or become loose during a journey, with potentially catastrophic outcomes.

Examples of unsafe situations caused by poor load restraint (Source: NTC, 2018)

Crash data on the contribution of load restraint is difficult to come by, most likely due to under-reporting of incidents where no injury or property damage occurred. Notwithstanding, there have been some high-profile incidents reported in the media in recent times.

How do parties make sure these incidents never arise? Interestingly, the law does not tell us how to restraint loads, it only stipulates that:

  • Loads must not be placed in a way that makes the vehicle unstable or unsafe;
  • Loads must be secured so they are unlikely to fall or be dislodged; and
  • Load restraints must be capable of withstanding the forces that are defined in the National Transport Commission’s Load Restraint Guide (see below).

Load restraint performance standards (Source: NTC, 2018)

The application of that legal framework and set of requirements to the modern freight task yields an inordinate number of possibilities in terms of loading scenarios and restraint methods and equipment.

The new HVIA course has developed five unique modules that guide learners through each of the key considerations, to give them the knowledge the need to understand which method and equipment is right for their scenario, and how to apply it properly. The modules are:

  1. Understanding the load;
  2. Understanding the vehicle;
  3. Understanding load restraint equipment;
  4. Choosing the right method; and
  5. Calculating the required restraints.

Similar to ‘Best Practice Tyre Management’, these modules are explained in detail in ‘Load Restraint Fundamentals’, again supported by diagrams, graphics, animations, and videos.

Is Training Acceptable For Managing Risk?

Absolutely. Training in the effective management of critical safety risks such as tyres and load restraint is a fundamental step. In practice, how training is used looks different for different parties in the chain.

For example, employers and prime contractors can undertake to complete training courses such as these and roll them out to their staff. Consignors and consignees can request evidence that drivers are trained.

Who Is Eligible For These Courses?

While the courses are predominantly aimed at drivers, workshop staff, fleet managers, service technicians, business owners, and other people with technical or fleet-based roles, they are intended for everyone, and everyone will be able to take away important knowledge from them. This also includes staff in departments and government agencies that regularly interact with the heavy vehicle industry.

HVIA’s courses now covers HV101, Best Practice Tyre Management, and Load Restraint Fundamentals

HVIA hopes that all players in the heavy vehicle industry, irrespective of their role or function, will see the value in making these courses part of their on-boarding process and build them into a program of refresher training for staff.

HVIA’s training courses now covers HV101, Best Practice Tyre Management, and Load Restraint Fundamentals

All three courses are available on the HVIA training website, which can be accessed via this link: Use the discount code: ‘HVSI’ at checkout to access both courses for only $29 each until December 31, 2023, down from the usual pricing of $99.

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