Safe Loading Practices, and Why They Matter

Posted on 12th February 2020 By Charlotte Haye

During your HGV training, you will learn a lot of things. Sometimes, too much to think about in one go! But among working out how to pass your theory tests and getting the right number of practice hours under your belt, you also need to learn about how to load and unload your HGV safely. Safe loading practices are an important part of your training, and today we want to dive a little more into why that is, and give you some tips to get started.

The Importance of Safe Loading for HGVs

How you load your HGV is a key component in keeping you, your cargo and other road users safe. While you might spend a lot of time transporting sealed containers (which are much simpler to keep safe), you may also find yourself transporting ultra-heavy or awkwardly shaped loads, which have to be strapped down to the back of a flatbed for transportation. When this happens, it’s your responsibility as the driver to ensure that load is safe, and can’t move during transit. Without proper loading, your cargo could shift during the journey. At best this could cause damage to your vehicle due to uneven steering, and at worst your vehicle could shed its load mid-journey, causing catastrophic damage to the road, the vehicle and the goods, as well as a severe accident and potentially loss of life. So in case it wasn’t obvious already, safe loading is incredibly important.

The 3 Principles of Safe Loading

Essentially, being able to safely load your HGV, especially when dealing with difficult loads, is critical to your safety and the safety of others. That’s why there is such a focus on it in training! Luckily when it comes to safe loading, there are three basic principles you need to follow:

  • Principle 1 – The securing system you’re using need to be able to withstand the entire load weight forwards (in case of heavy raking), half the weight to the rear and to the sides (in case of unexpected lateral movements). This stops your load falling off in any direction and minimizes movement.


  • Principle 2 – Always use the structure of your trailer or vehicle to secure your goods. This might mean loading into a fully secured lorry box, or it may mean strapping it to the bulkhead or headboard. Any gaps between the anchor points need to be packed with pallets or similar materials to stop any undesired movement.


  • Principle 3 – Always use the correct restraints and lashes for the type of load you’re carrying. Some trailers will come with this equipment built in, which makes securing loads easier. But often you’ll need to use netting, webbing, lashes or chains to secure the load, depending on what you’re transporting.

Lashing Techniques for Safety

One of the techniques you will need to master when loading any HGV is lashing. While container-based HGVs might not need lashing, if you are ever moving awkwardly shaped loads like building materials, machinery or even a fully built house, you will need to secure it to the bed of the HGV. This is done by lashing, using ropes and straps. When it comes to lashing, there are two main methods. They are known as frictional lashing and direct lashing.

  • Direct lashing is mainly used for the loading of heavy machinery and plant equipment, with the lashes being used in opposing pairs.


  • Frictional lashing is the more common method, and it involves putting lashes over the load from one side of the vehicle or trailer to the other. The quantity of lashes used will depend on a lot of things, like the load weight, the rating of your lashings, load bed friction and how many tensioners you use.

Whichever method of lashing you choose, there is one principle that applies. Your lashing needs to be as close to vertical as you can possibly get it – the closer to vertical it is, the safer your load will be. If you’re struggling, then you might need to use pallets to even out the load and make it safer. Or if you’re moving more malleable materials like aggregate or powder, you may need to switch to chains to ensure nothing slips.

At the Surrey and Hampshire Training Centre, we don’t believe in just teaching you how to drive a big vehicle. We believe in providing you with all of the knowledge, tools and techniques you need to be an effective driver and keep you, your cargo and other road users safe. That’s why our training programmes have sections entirely focused on loading safety, so you can be sure you are ready to hit the road with confidence. To find out more, just get in touch with the team today.

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