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Small Rigid Trucks and Vans

This page and the two other pages within this section (7.5t Operations and Van Operations) have been added to the website to assist those operators of vans and 7.5 tonne vehicles and to clarify certain responsibilities within their operations.

For new operators and companies whose core business is not road transport but who operate vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes the regulations outlined within this section are applicable. The guidance given within this section will be useful to those manufacturing companies who operate a small number of vehicles of this size range to service their clients.

Safe Loading Practice
Certainly over the last decade, the introduction of lightweight materials used in the construction of vans and small rigids has gone a long way to improving the payload potential of the same. However, in saying this, the risk to operators of axle overloading for vehicles from 2,000kg to 7,500kg remains. Due diligence on the part of the driver is paramount to ensuring that axle overloads do not compromise safety and in the case of vehicles over 3.5 tonne (or operators running mixed fleets) their operator license.
Companies that may potentially be at risk of overloading their vehicles are:

Although vehicles within these weight categories have enhanced carrying capacities, progress in construction by the manufacturers to achieve this has resulted in vehicle bodies being larger, certainly at the 3.5 tonne level. An example of this being the long wheel base high roof vans in operation today.
One particular vehicle type in the 3.5 tonne range that is more at risk to overloading is the Luton bodied vans, especially if a tail-lift is a part of the vehicles construction.

Load Security
It is not always the case that vehicles within this category have the added advantage of restraining equipment built into the floor such as restraint rings. In this case, measures should be taken to ensure that the vehicle load doesn't move, something that can be particularly difficult in 3.5 tonne vans, where invariable there is no securing lathes or load-lock facility built into the vehicles side walls either.

It is an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 to use a vehicle, or cause or permit it to be used, when the position or distribution of its load or the manner in which it is secured means there is a danger of injury to any person. This carries a maximum 5,000 fine together with obligatory licence endorsement and discretionary disqualification. Case law has clearly established that a load does not actually have to be shed for an offence to be committed

It is alternatively possible to be prosecuted under the construction and use regulations where nuisance is caused or likely to be caused by a load falling or being blown from a vehicle or moving on a vehicle. This is however not an endorsable offence.

Under the 1988 Act, the offence of dangerous driving encompasses circumstances where it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving a vehicle in its present condition would be dangerous Account can be taken of anything carried on the vehicle and the way in which it is carried. 'Dangerous' is defined as likely to cause injury to any person or serious damage to property. It is, therefore, possible for the most serious offences of insecure loading (and even overloading) to be prosecuted under this provision - for example, where the vehicle was so unsafe that it should not have been driven. A dangerous driving conviction can result in imprisonment and a substantial fine as well as obligatory disqualification and licence endorsement.

Authorisations issued under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for quarrying and related operations incorporate requirements for loads to be sheeted while on site if likely to generate dust, etc.

From 1 January 1993 the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 have been in force. The code of practice accompanying the regulations requires that 'as far as is reasonably practicable, suitable and effective measures should be taken to prevent any person falling a distance likely to cause personal injury'. The code advises that, where possible, arrangements such as the provision of gantries or automatic sheeting equipment should be provided to allow for the sheeting of vehicles. If it is not reasonably practicable to remove the need for vehicle top access in this way, a safe system of work should be developed. The elements might include the use of safety lines, harnesses, collapsible handrails, staff training and emergency procedures.

There are many considerations and areas of Best Practice associated with Load Safety and Security. For further information to assist you in preventing damage to products, vehicles, staff and other road users, best practice guides are available for download at the links below. There is also additional information available, which can be found within the Road Legal (Inc C&U) section of this website at the following pages Vehicle Loading, Overloading, Load Security and Skip Loaders.

Safety Loads on Vehicles (Code of Practice) - DftPDF logo
EU best Practice on Cargo Security - EU CommissionPDF logo
Dangers of Overloading - VosaPDF logo

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The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)
PUWER replaces the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992 and carries forward these existing requirements with a few changes and additions, for example the inspection of work equipment and specific new requirements for mobile work equipment. Many aspects of PUWER may therefore be familiar to you.

The Regulations require risks to people's health and safety, from equipment that they use at work, to be prevented or controlled. In addition to the requirements of PUWER, lifting equipment is also subject to the requirements of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.

These regulations apply to all work equipment, including mobile and lifting equipment. PUWER applies to all workplaces. They affect everyone with a direct or indirect responsibility for work equipment and its use. eg: employers, employees, the self employed and those who hire out equipment.

'Work equipment' is everything from tool box tools to a dumper truck, photocopier, laboratory apparatus, lifting equipment (eg crane, breakdown crane, fork lift truck) or a pressure washer. With the exception of private cars, PUWER applies to all vehicles and the equipment mounted upon them, and it should be noted that:-

The following is a simplified summary of the key provisions. It is essential to obtain the combined regulations. Approved code of Practice and Guidance from the HSE, which can be downloaded at the link below.

Guide to PUWER Regulations - HSEPDF logo

Tail Lifts (LOLER)
We are aware that many operators of 7.5 tonne vehicles also have ancillary equipment fitted to their vehicles such as tail-lifts. For those operators where this applies, we have covered the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) within this section here 7.5t Operations, which also includes the Guide to the LOLER regulations (download).

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