Risks Involved in Loading LGV using Forklift Trucks

Loading and unloading Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) or Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) is an everyday task for most logistic companies and warehouses, but it is fraught with dangers if not executed properly. Loading and unloading a LGV/HGV is usually done by forklift trucks and takes place where there are other moving vehicles and pedestrians, although these should be kept to a minimum or eliminated completely if possible to reduce the risk of accidents. A forklift operator should be aware of the risks involved with the type of vehicle they are loading or unloading, such as the characteristics of trailer suspension movement and ensure that the LGV/HGV is securely parked. Also moving heavy loads at height adds to the risks.

RTITB has recently published a blog highlighting the five top tips for safe loading of LGV/HGV with forklift trucks. Here is a summary of the top tips.

Thorough Examination of a Forklift Truck

1) Training

All forklift operators involved in loading and unloading must have received appropriate training by an RTITB accredited instructor and should train across all three stages – Basic, Job Specific and Familiarisation. The company must ensure that the forklift operator certificate is valid. If expired, a re-fresh and re-certification is required. The forklift operator must be aware of the risks involved. A fully trained forklift operator will not only improve load handling safety and reduce damage but also maximise productivity and ensure compliance with relevant regulations.

2) Be Prepared

The essential part of forklift operator training is to understand what is required before loading or unloading begins. The operator must take personal responsibility for their own safety and should not rely on others to make necessary checks and take appropriate safety steps. Site specific guidelines on policies and procedures regarding loading and unloading must be in place.

Before loading or unloading begins, the vehicle or trailer must be properly secured. The safety procedures should include:

  • ensuring that the LGV/HGV parking brakes are on,
  • neutral is engaged,
  • engine is switched off
  • keys removed
  • wheels chocked and any stabilisers or ‘semi-trailer trestles’ such as fifth wheel supports are applied

3) Establish what a ‘Good’ load looks like

Operators need to be trained as to what a ‘good’ load looks like. All loads or pallets should be in a good condition prior to loading. Forklift truck operators must be taught how loads should be securely attached to a pallet and to a vehicle once loaded to prevent it from moving or falling off. Overhanging loads should be avoided if possible.

Uneven loads can make a vehicle unstable and hence loads should be spread as evenly as possible. Consideration should be given to multi drop deliveries so that the LGV/HGV can be loaded in the correct sequence.

During loading, consideration must be given to the unloading process so that the load arrives in a safe and suitable condition. Checks should be made before unloading to make sure no movement has occurred during transit. It is also important that the load will not move or fall when the restrains are removed.

4) Specific Risks

Forklift truck operators loading and unloading LGV/HGV should be aware of the risks involved, which includes knowledge of vehicles they are loading. For example, extra care needs to be taken when loading and unloading unsupported semi-trailers as excessive weight placed over the kingpin may result in the trailer tipping forwards. Also they need to be aware that there is no edge protection if they are loading or unloading curtain-side trailers. Failure to load correctly may lead to upending or damaging the trailer, collapsing the landing gear, lateral instability, trailer suspension movement, load bed damage or working at height incidents all of which pose a serious risk to safety. Forklift operators should be trained with an understanding of how to assess and reduce these risks.

5) Understanding of Other Equipment a Forklift Truck operator may come across

Forklift operators must be aware of the other equipment that they will come across and the risks involved, such as ramps, dock bridging platforms and goods lifts. Safety checks should be made before using these equipment. They must be able to check if the equipment is compatible with the vehicle or trailer, how to secure it properly so that is doesn’t move and how to securely fit any edge protection. They should check the maximum load permissible on ramps, platforms and lifts and ensure that the combined weight of their truck and the load does not exceed the maximum load.

There are numerous other risks involved in loading and unloading a LGV/HGV vehicle. Appropriate forklift training should mitigate these risks.

Wallace School of Transport is a fully accredited RTITB company with over 50 years’ experience. You can be trained either at your own work site or at Wallace Centre in Park Royal. If you have any questions, call Wallace Forklift Training on 020 8453 3440, choose option 3 or click here to email us.

Scroll to Top