The current safe loading legislation is not new, it’s based on The Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986, Regulation 100(2) and Section 42 of The Road Traffic Act 1988, SO-4.

At a roadside check a DVSA (formerly VOSA) Vehicle Examiner will refer to 100 (2) – USE OF VEHICLE/TRAILER IS SUCH THAT A DANGER OR A NUISANCE IS LIKELY TO BE CAUSED, and if they feels the load is insecure then refer to the matrix for deciding the penalty/action.

An unsecured pallet over 400kg has a Load Type/Defect Category of B1 which is a Prohibition and fixed penalty of £100.

Pallets under 400kg would have to show no load securing to attract a fixed penalty or prohibition. Current DVSA practice is to accept hanging straps in place as acceptable load securing for the top deck of a double deck trailer due to the danger of drivers attempting to strap the load working at a dangerous height.


The latest DVSA Load securing: vehicle operator guidance published March 2015 says:

The structure of a standard curtain-sided vehicle or body is not normally strong enough to provide enough load securing, even if load-retaining curtains are used. Tests on ordinary trailers show that its weakest point is its frame, and this is most likely to fail. This highlights the limited benefits of attaching stronger curtains to ordinary trailers.

The curtains should be considered as nothing more than weather protection. The vehicle should be loaded as you would load a flat-bed vehicle without curtains.

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.


Load bearing curtains are not considered a suitable restraint unless used with a XL-Rated trailer.

XL- rated vehicles: There has been a lot of coverage in the trade publications lately regarding the DVSA accepting new standards on load security provided by XL-rated vehicles and this is causing some confusion.

Previously the DVSA accepted that vehicles built to the EN 12642 XL standards would provide 40% of security to the side. After consultation with industry stakeholders we now accept these vehicles as providing 50% of load security to the side – as long as the load is a positive fit.

Positive fit: The DVSA now accept XL-rated vehicles as providing 50% of the total maximum vehicle load to the side. So you would not need to use additional lashing or other load security solutions, as long as you have loaded the goods with a positive fit:

•  Load from the headboard, filling the length of the load bed up to the bulkhead, which must be in good condition.
•  The gap between each side of the load and the curtains must be 80 millimetres or less.
•  The load must be secured to the rear if it is not retained by the trailer body or rear doors.
•  But if you have not loaded your XL-rated vehicle to these positive fit standards, you must treat it in the same way as a normal curtain-sided vehicle and use other appropriate methods to secure the load, such as lashings.
•  If the load is multi-stacked or part loaded additional securing will also be required.

Beware multi-drop: XL-rated vehicles involved in multi drop operations may well start the journey meeting positive fit requirements. But as the load diminishes, the driver must either fill any gaps to maintain the positive fit, or use additional securing measures.


The European Best Practice Guidelines on Cargo Securing for Road Transport which has been adopted by the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) states:-

As a general rule, goods carried within curtain-sided vehicles should be secured as if they were being carried on a flat, open-bed vehicle. If the loading configuration, or its securing, would cause concern when used on an open vehicle, then it should be considered equally unacceptable with a curtain-sided vehicle.

Similarly, where vertical inner curtains are fitted and they are not purposely designed for a specific load, they also MUST NOT be considered as part of the load restraining system. Curtains and vertical inner curtains should be considered purely as a means of containing within the vehicle any small, loose items that may have become dislodged during the journey.

They have published A guide to workplace transport safety - HSG136 (3rd edition) Published 2014 which states

121 It is important to remember that drivers are not the only people responsible for the safety of the vehicle and the load. The consignor (the person or company who actually places the load onto the vehicle) and those in control of sites must ensure the loading is carried out safely and that the load will remain in a safe and stable condition until it reaches its destination. Those in control of sites where unloading takes place must also ensure unloading is carried out safely. Hauliers are responsible for ensuring the correct equipment and vehicles are used and their drivers are properly trained and monitored.


DVSA Enforcement Sanctions Policy April 2015

DVSA Load securing: vehicle operator guidance published March 2015

The European Best Practice Guidelines on Cargo Securing for Road Transport

HSE Research Report RR924 on Load Security on double deck trailers

HSE Research Report RR662 on Load Security on curtain sided lorries

A guide to workplace transport safety - HSG136


See also

FTA Enforcement of load security

RHA HSE Protect yourself, protect the load Securing loads for safe transport and safe unloading



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