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A Guide to Load Restraint

Why are Load Restraints Important?

Load restraints in transport are crucial for several reasons, primarily focused on safety, regulatory compliance, and operational efficiency. Some key considerations you should make next time you load your vehicle include:

Safety: The primary concern is the safety of both the drivers and other road users. Properly restrained loads can prevent cargo from shifting or falling during transit, reducing the risk of accidents, injuries, and damage to property. Unsecured or poorly restrained loads may lead to accidents such as rollovers, spillages, or collisions.

Environmental Impact: Accidents caused by inadequately restrained loads may result in environmental hazards, such as spills or leaks of hazardous materials. Proper load restraint can contribute to minimising the environmental impact of transportation.

Preservation of Cargo Integrity: Some goods are sensitive to movement, vibrations, or changes in position. Proper load restraint helps to ensure that the cargo arrives at its destination in the same condition it was loaded, minimising the risk of damage or spoilage.

Liability In the event of an accident or damage caused by an inadequately restrained load, liability issues may arise. Proper load restraint helps demonstrate that the transporter took necessary precautions to secure the cargo, which can be crucial in legal proceedings and insurance claims (though liability is complex and will depend on the specific facts).

RTA (NSW) has compiled the Load Restraint Guide to assist drivers with mitigating the risk of carrying loads.

It's an unfortunate fact that incorrect or non-compliant load restraints can cause fatalities. The National Transport Commission together with the RTA (NSW) has compiled the Load Restraint Guide to assist drivers with mitigating the risk of carrying loads.

The Guide outlines essential, basic principles that all drivers, operators and anyone included in the chain of responsibility need to understand.

What Guidelines do I need to follow?

In most simple terms, loads need to be secured to prevent movement during any operation. According to the NTC, the restrained system used meet the below criteria:

  • The load should not become dislodged from the vehicle.
  • Load movement should be limited, ie. any movement may not adversely affect the vehicle's stability and weight distribution, or become dislodged from the vehicle.

How much movement are my loads allowed to have?

There is minimal leeway for movement within loads, that are effectively contained within the sides of a vehicle or enclosure in the vehicle body, such as:

  • Loads that are effectively restrained from moving horizontally (limited vertical movement is acceptable).
  • Very lightweight items or loose bulk items (limited horizontal and vertical movement is acceptable).
  • Bulk liquids (limited liquid movement is acceptable).

What methods of load restraint are allowed?

Method of load restraint must be capable of withstanding the forces that would result if the vehicle was subjected to each of the following, separately:

  • 8 g deceleration in a forward direction
  • 5 g deceleration in a rearward direction
  • 5 g acceleration in a lateral direction
  • 2 g acceleration relative to the load in a vertical direction


  • The choice of load restraint depends on the type, size, and weight of your cargo. Consider factors such as the mode of transportation and the characteristics of the goods being transported when selecting the appropriate load restraint method.

  • Regular inspections are crucial - restraints should be inspected before each trip to ensure they are in good condition, and any damaged or worn restraints should be replaced immediately.

  • Adverse weather conditions such as rain or snow can impact the effectiveness of certain load restraints. It's important to consider weather conditions when securing cargo and to use weather-resistant materials when necessary.