Most seasoned van drivers are well-versed loading and unloading cargo. Indeed, many firms that require their drivers to lift and load will offer some sort of training in the induction process. But sometimes we get lazy or are in a hurry, and abandoning what we know in such situations can lead to injury. Here, we explore how to load a van safely so that you and others around you don’t come to any harm.
There’s a difference between what you can lift and what you can safely lift. Test the weight of the load before lifting it and if you’re feeling strain on your muscles (particularly your back) get a colleague to help out. If heavy or awkward items can be split into more manageable loads, break them up.
Load the van as close as possible to where the goods are, and if you need to travel to the van with them, don’t aim to take heavier objects all the way without a break. There’s no harm in putting something down for a minute before continuing.
Always load from the back to the front of the cargo space. When loading items that are top-heavy, dismantle them to lower the centre of gravity and stop them sliding around or toppling over. Also, make sure that more fragile items are placed somewhere their movement will be restricted.
No matter how well you’ve loaded up, there’s still potential for goods to slide as you drive. To minimise this and prevent damage, use anchor points and tensioning straps to secure items. If anything is hanging off the back of your van, secure it carefully and attach a high-vis material to the most protruding points.
We’ve covered how to load your van safely and transport items carefully, now let’s look at unloading. The same guidance applies to loading in terms of your own safety – know your limits and request help for heavier or more cumbersome items.
Unloading should take place in a relatively safe environment, free from traffic or obstructions. This will enable you to take your time. Take care as you unload to ensure any items that may have moved don’t unbalance or fall as you remove those around them. If you suspect an object has been damaged, keep an eye out for splinters or broken glass that could harm your hands.
It’s good practice to know where the items you’re delivering are going before you begin unloading. Pull up as close to their final destination as possible so that there’s no need to move them several times.