NTC wants changes to load restraint requirements

NTC wants the 'chain and dogs' load restraint practice stamped out due to occupational health and safety concerns

By Brad Gardner | December 5, 2011

The National Transport Commission is pushing for changes to heavy vehicle load restraint requirements, claiming the ‘chain and dogs’ method is unsafe.

On the back of advice from occupational health and safety agencies, the NTC has recommended an end to the use of fixed and pivoting lever dogs to secure loads.

"Following work by the Load Restraint Working Group, it has realised that fixed or pivoting lever dogs, (with or without an extension or "cheater" bar) can cause serious injury to the operator when applying or releasing the chain," the NTC says in a statement.

WorkSafe Victoria says there are about 100 serious injuries every year associated with restraining and containing loads. It says extension bars are commonly used with dogs to increase chain tension.

"Using an extension bar is dangerous during tightening and releasing because it can rebound quickly and may even fly into the air," the department says.

It has previously recommended the use of turnbuckle tensioners or a non-rebounding tensioner instead of a dog.

The Department of Workplace Health and Safety in Queensland says it has noticed an increase in injuries among people using dogs and extension bars to secure loads.

RPQ Asphalt was fined $40,000 in June this year after one of its drivers was injured while using a lever action dog to secure a bobcat on a trailer.

"As he tensioned the hitch by pulling down on the lever it sprang back, striking his face near the left eye. The worker lost his eye as a result," the department says.

The worker had not been trained in the use of hitches, while the court was told workers would strike hitches with an iron bar to lock them.

RPQ Asphalt has since implemented a new load restraint system using a ratchet to achieve tension.

Workplace Health and Safety says extension bars are frequently used to tighten and release dogs despite the national load restraint guide recommending otherwise. The department says an extension bar can cause over-tensioning.

"Available alternatives include turnbuckle binders, Ausbinder, EV-Cam and Web-dog. In many applications, webbing and webbing winches can be used instead of chain and chain load binders," it says.

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