Taking the risk out of load risk assessment

Health and safety is high on the agenda of every business and managers are expected to do everything in their power to keep their employees safe in the workplace.

As a leading provider for load restraint equipment, we thought we’d take a look at the duty of care employers in the transport industry have, to carry out load risk assessments.

Why is a load risk assessment necessary?

The management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires every business to identify any hazards or risk to the health and safety of their employees, whilst at work.

Consequently, vehicle operators need to carry out a thorough assessment of the dangers faced by employees who load vehicles on their behalf. Any potential risk of injury needs to be identified and eliminated to ensure the welfare of the employee whilst they go about their daily work.

Written records of all assessments have to be kept for businesses with more than five employees otherwise you could face a fine or even prosecution. However, it is good practice to record all assessments, even when carried out by owner-drivers or the self-employed.

What is a load risk assessment?

A risk assessment is the process of identifying hazards, evaluating risks and controlling or eliminating hazards encountered during daily tasks and activities. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to decide what might cause harm to employees and take reasonable steps to prevent it.

These five-steps are an effective way to carry out an assessment: 1. Identify what types of hazards employees might face doing the job. 2. Consider which employees may be harmed and what type of injury may occur. 3. Evaluate any the existing precautions. Are they adequate or do they need to be adjusted? Are there enough systems in place to reduce the risk to employees? 4. Record findings and implement them. Put together an action plan and communicate this to employees. 5. Review the action plan and keep it up-to-date. Review it annually and whenever new potential risks are identified.

A record of exactly how a vehicle is loaded is also useful and can help prove that the driver has acted correctly in the event of a roadside spot check.

How are businesses checked?

Traditionally, roadside stops were carried out at known stopping places and predictable times. However, this standardised approach was not cost-effective and proved unnecessarily disruptive for operators with possible financial loss due to vehicle downtime and contractual penalties.

Consequently, a new approach was introduced by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in 2018. The Voluntary Earned Recognition System encourages vehicle operators of all sizes to prove that the organisation meets driver and vehicle standards.

In return for regular performance information sharing with the DVSA, vehicles are less likely to be stopped for inspections. Although it’s a voluntary scheme, your systems and processes must be audited by a DVSA authorised auditor every 2 years to ensure standards are maintained.

For more information on how to secure your load and meet health and safety regulations using CargoStop’s range of products, please get in touch.