Workplace Health and Safety Queensland conducted a study into load restraint in the transport industry that revealed that over-centre type load tensioning devices (dogs) and extension (cheater) bars are a serious risk to the safety of workers in the transport industry. This post examines the findings of that study and the suggestions that it makes.
The organisation on its website said that dogs and cheater bars are both widely used load restraint devices even though these devices present serious risks to the safety of workers. There have been serious injuries caused by these devices kicking back and striking workers.
The study showed that although alternative load restraint devices offered much lower risks of causing serious or fatal injuries, some in the industry were still opting for the more risky version. But there had been no assessment of the other risks that these devices pose to workers. Particular concerns surround whether these devices result in musculoskeletal injuries.
The study delved into the potential of musculoskeletal disorders to develop and the impact risks linked with the use of 8mm in-line chain tensioners. The study also included a data review, industry surveys and focus group work.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland said on its website about the study:
The study recommended the development of truck-mounted, below tray, load restraint devices so that work can be done with the hands between waist and shoulder height when standing on the ground. These devices should have release mechanisms that do not permit the sudden and uncontrolled release of the load, as well as tension indicators.
As well, the design of in-line chain tensioners should be improved and the use of dogs and cheater bars discouraged, in line with existing warnings from WHSQ.
Finally, the study recommended further research projects to investigate the levels of force required to release a load restraint device when the chain lashing tension has increased due to load shift and to determine the number of load binder incidents in relation to overall transport industry injuries.
The post on WHSQ website went on to explain that the study recognised that implementing these recommendations would require time and collaboration between WHSQ, workers, suppliers and manufacturers in the industry.
The post goes on to explain that securing loads has in the past been a consistent problem in the industry but there are some practical steps that can be taken to minimise the risks when loading and unloading heavy vehicles.
- One suggestion made on the WHSQ website is eliminating the need for gates by using the approved load bearing curtains. Risks can also be minimised by using handing, sliding or swinging gates that lock into the vehicle.
- WHSQ also suggests making sure curtains slide easily, check for tripping hazards and also walk slowly so the curtain moves smoothly.
- The use of a load securing system that doesn’t need lashings is also suggested. Workers can minimise risk by using an elevated work platform so that workers don’t need to climb onto the truck by pulling straps over the load.
- It has also been suggested that we use webbing straps as an alternative to chains, and if chains are necessary, we should avoid using an over-centre lever load binder or an extension bar to increase load tension. WHSQ suggests using a turnbuckle non-rebounding tensioner.
Those who want more information about the study and its findings can visit www.worksafe.qld.go.vau or call 1300 362 128