Strapped in for TA22 Load restraint forum

Load restraint is the core safety issue at the centre of every trucking business, yet it is still tarred by controversy and frustration.

HVIA facilitated a Load Restraint Masterclass at last week’s Trucking Australia ’22 conference, and the well-attended session prompted strong engagement from a passionate audience of industry leaders.

The conference was a welcome return to face-to-face meetings for the industry’s key executives from both the operator and supplier side, with its hosts – the Australian Trucking Association – having being forced to go online for the last two years.

For HVIA the session serves as a key piece of research to inform a project funded by the NHVR’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative.

The outcomes of the session will also feed into the online Load Restraint training course that HVIA is currently developing.

The end-goal is to produce an interactive online training course, however it has become clear that the industry is hankering for more resources to aid their performance in this area.

The session was chaired by Steve Power from Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia, who was joined by roadside enforcement experts Russell Greenland and Jarrad Murphy from the NHVR safety and on-road compliance team, based in Melbourne and Adelaide respectively.

“Load restraint is a fundamental principle of the chain of responsibility,” Mr Power said.

“The session agenda was cast to explore the safety culture, training and communication issues that typically cause load restraint failures – with potentially catastrophic results.

“It was always going to be a good forum for lively discussion.

“Trucking Australia attendees are typically business leaders who are already strongly focussed on building strong safety cultures and bringing best-practice training, technology and compliance systems and solutions to their businesses.

“That said, the reason they have got to the position they are in, is being willing to question the status quo, and load restraint is an area that many feel has too many grey areas.

“But this isn’t about avoiding fines or managing reputational risk; it’s about very real risks and potential consequences – making sure no one is harmed, either in the workplace or in the community.”

Mr Greenland explained that the NHVR’s enforcement focus is about providing information and education first, however there is an expectation that every operator has safe systems in place.

Mr Greenwood also advised attendees to utilise the Master Code, an industry code of practice that was endorsed by the NHVR in 2018. It was the result of a joint project between the ATA and the Australian Logistics Council.

“We assume that you know what’s in that Master Code because it has been produced by industry,” Mr Greenland said.

“If you haven’t got those systems in place you are leaving yourself very vulnerable.”

“It’s not a magic bullet. It’s a matter of having processes, systems and procedures to minimise or mitigate the risk profile,” he said.

“Planning is really important in terms of how you get those loads secure and what you do.”  

“The Load Restraint Guide (NTC 2018) is not that difficult. It is the guide you need to follow if you haven’t got a certified system.

“Once you go through the processes there are only four inputs really – the angle of the webbing, thickness of the webbing, the type of buckle it uses and the friction material underneath – whether it’s steel on timber, high friction matting, steel on steel, etc.

“They are all in the tables in the Load Restraint Guide, and it is really quite easy once you’ve walked through the process.”

HVIA’s online load restraint course is intended to be available to all operators, as a way of reinforcing and testing comprehension of the fundamentals as per the Load Restraint Guide. 

“It’s one of many courses we will be delivering through HVIA Training on the back of the success of HV101 – our online heavy vehicle industry induction course,” Mr Power said.

“It is one thing to say you’ve read the Load Restraint Guide and you know how to use it; it is altogether another for that to be tested, so we can be sure that every party in the chain is doing their part.

“Participants should be able to describe the fourteen fundamental principles of load restraint per the NTC 2018 Load Restraint Guide, and apply those principles to their own transport task.”

While the online course is scheduled to be launched at the Brisbane Truck Show in May next year, HVIA expects to have it ready for initial testing much sooner than that.

“Through this project our ambition is to ensure every truck operator knows where to access resources, training and advice, and feel confident and motivated to do so,” Mr Power added.

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