Unsecure load results in fatality

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

WSN Hazard Alert printable format: Unsecure Load Results in Fatality


There have been a number of serious workplace injuries and fatalities as a result of unloading material from tractor-trailers. Last year, an unsecured load shifted during transport and was leaning against the back doors – a worker was killed when he opened the door and a bale fell out knocking him down so that his head hit the pavement.

Cardboard bale leaning up against truck door


If a load isn’t properly secured on a vehicle, it can severely injure or kill a person during the loading or unloading process. During transport, unsecured material can shift and may end up leaning up against the doors. The worker could be walking into a dangerous trap: When the driver or worker opens the doors – depending on the size and weight of the load – the material can fall resulting in serious injury or fatality. If the unsecured heavy load is resting against the doors, it can also cause the doors to swing out violently. 


At no time should a worker or bystander be exposed to an unsecure load. Companies need to have a secure loading and unloading program. At a minimum, the program should include the following:

1. Workers involved in loading, securing, and unloading trailers are trained and made aware of hazards. AZ licensing requirements include the driver’s ability to ensure cargo and goods are safely loaded and secured in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

2. Specific procedures for loading, securing and unloading trailers for relevant workers on your site, regardless if they are regular employees, contractors or drivers from another company. 

3. Specific procedures if a worker suspects a load has shifted. Workers should inspect for any signs of stress that indicate material may be leaning up against the doors. If they believe the load is unsecure, they should not open the doors, and instead bring this hazard to the attention of their supervisor to receive guidance on the best method to address this hazard. The Joint Health and Safety Committee representative can also assist in educating workers about load security hazards. Some trucks may have an inspection plate or an interior camera which can be utilized.

4. Require all suppliers and contractors to use safe loading practices. Contractor policy for all firms should contain a program to deal with the hazard of safely securing and unloading materials. Suppliers and contractors must be operating in accordance with the Highway Traffic Act, and that includes responsibly securing loads. 

5. Annual refresher training on safe loading and unloading practices for all employees exposed to these hazards. Between 2009 and 2011, 1,788 injury claims have been made by transportation workers struck by objects in the workplace; including 66 struck by doors, 16 struck by strapping, and 12 struck by bundles/bales.

6. Supervisor follow-up to ensure safe loading and unloading practices are being followed, including on-the-job observation and enforcement as necessary.

7.  Keep an incident log and follow up with employees and contractors. Proactively conduct audits or inspections of container conditions as they arrive at the work area. Visually inspect the loads, trailers, and loading and unloading patterns. At no time should a worker or bystander be exposed to an unsecure load.

By raising awareness, providing training and adequate supervision, reviewing contractor policies, and conducting regular inspections, you can help ensure proper safety procedures are in place to protect workers and drivers.


Section 111(2) of the Highway Traffic Act states, “No person shall operate or permit to be operated upon a highway a motor vehicle that carries a load or draws a vehicle that carries a load unless the load is loaded, bound, secured, contained or covered so that no portion of the load may become dislodged or fall, leak, spill or blow from the vehicle.”

Section 363/04 ‘Security of Loads’ from the Highway Traffic Act states that commercial vehicles must have the proper tiedowns to secure their loads and that, “If the load may shift in transit, the load must be blocked, restrained or contained in such a manner that it will not shift…”

The Occupational Health and Safety Act, section 25(2)(a) states that an employer will “provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker;” and (h) “take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker.”  


As your health and safety specialist for Ontario’s paper, printing, and converting sector, WSN offers training, resources, risk assessment, safety auditing, and a free confidential initial consultation.

Training Courses

Safe Travel on Logging Roads – Upcoming half-day training session May 9 in Dryden, and September 26 in Thunder Bay
Cargo Securement for Forestry Operations

Free Resources
Safety Talk: Securing Loads
Bill 160 - Mandatory Health and Safety Awareness Poster
Bill 160 - Worker Health and Safety Awareness in 4 Steps

Risk Assessment Assistance
Call or email WSN today for help to strengthen and optimize your workplace safety program.

Free initial confidential consultation
Call toll-free in Ontario 1-888-730 7821 or email info@workplacesafetynorth.ca. 


About WSN: Workplace Safety North believes illnesses and injuries can and must be prevented. An independent not-for-profit health and safety organization, WSN is a leading provider of health and safety training and consulting for Ontario mining, forestry, paper, printing and converting sectors. WSN was formed by the 2010 amalgamation of three key safety associations: Mines and Aggregates Safety and Health Association (MASHA), Ontario Forestry Safe Workplace Association (OFSWA), and the Pulp and Paper Health and Safety Association (PPHSA). For more information, please visit www.workplacesafetynorth.ca.


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