Load Restraint Guide Draft 2017 (Third Edition)

 

The NTC has recently published a Draft of its proposed 3rd Edition Load Restraint Guide.

This Draft 3rd Edition contains numerous content changes, additions and omissions from the 2nd Edition Load Restraint Guide. The NTC has not listed or justified these differences in the document or elsewhere.

Loadsafe has advised the NTC of selected undisclosed changes which, if not reversed or rectified, will result in a significant reduction in vehicle and community safety.

No undertaking was given to Loadsafe by NTC to further review these or any other matters discussed (see below), before publication of the 3rd Edition of the Load Restraint Guide.

Loadsafe calls on all stakeholders to act now to bring about all necessary changes to the 3rd Edition so that at least the current level of community safety is maintained, by encouraging the following immediate action by NTC:

  • Re-instate the 2nd Edition Performance Standards;

  • Re-instate the 2nd Edition Certification Requirements;

  • Peer review all load type guides and remove or modify where necessary.

 

There can be both negative and positive consequences if the NTC doesn’t act to change the 3rd Edition, for each of the following stakeholders:

  • Industry

  • Enforcement Agencies

  • Heavy Vehicle Regulator

  • Community

  • Load Restraint Engineers

  • OHS Professionals

  • Legal Professionals

  • NTC

 

The following list of NTC changes (which at this stage are unlikely to be fixed in the 3rd Edition) will result in outcomes which reduce safety, in spite of NTC’s stated purpose to increase safety.

  1. The new Dot Point Performance Standards mean lower standards of restraint and safety. For example Dot Point Performance Standards now allow some loads to be transported without tie-down on open semi-trailers, even though it is well known by industry and enforcement that it is not safe practice.

  2. Some current safe load restraint procedures contained in Industry Standards now conflict with unproven Technical Content in the Guide.

  3. Deletion of friction free certification and physical testing requirements allows all conventional side-curtains to be unsafely certified as load rated

  4. Unproven and unsafe Technical Content is allowed into the 3rd Edition Load Restraint Guide by failure of NTC to peer review new technical requirements from its content provider. For example, the unfettered encouragement in the Draft for containment, of direct restraint strap "blocking devices" is unsafe.

  5. Approved loads are unwisely displayed as icons without definition of the weight, lashing specification, lashing numbers and orientation, lashing attachment method or pack integrity, subject to engineer disclaimer.

The following discussion outlines only just a few of the negative consequences of the NTC publishing their Draft “as is”.

 

  1. New Performance Standards

 

Although it may not be initially obvious, the Performance Standards as presented in the Draft and in the version published on the NTC website are radically different from those contained on page 186 of the 2nd Edition of the Load Restraint Guide.

The most serious and immediate negative consequences which will result from the adoption of the proposed Draft, will be caused by the changes to the Performance Standards and their application.

The NTC advised that the Performance Standards would in future, be specifically defined in Legislation, not in the Guide as at present.

The NTC has erroneously informed the public, regulators and a selected industry audience that the legislated Heavy Vehicle Performance Standards would not change in the 3rd Edition.

However, the NTC has explicitly denied changing the Performance Standards to be included in the future 3rd Edition of the Guide and also to be included in the proposed accompanying Legislation, even though they are obviously different from the Performance Standards contained in current Legislation.

Loadsafe has advised the NTC of the obvious changes and potential negative safety outcomes, however this has been ignored. This lack of acknowledgement without any justification or explanation by the NTC seems to be a reckless disregard of Subject Matter Expert opinion.

 

Process:

The process undertaken by the NTC to update the 2nd Edition Load Restraint Guide included an independent review of the Performance Standards, awarded to RMIT. Loadsafe had no technical input to this review and was not involved in any peer review of the RMIT Report that may have occurred.

 

Numerical Standards:

RMIT based its analysis on accelerations to which the vehicle was subject (as written in the Performance Standards) and endorsed the existing 0.8g, 0.5g, 0.5g and 0.2g numerical standards, still as relevant today, as in 1992 when they were first proposed by Loadsafe’s Richard Larsen 25 years ago.

New Dot Point Performance Standards Proposed by NTC:

The NTC has made a major change to the Performance Standards by the subtle insertion of dot points, enabling horizontal accelerations to be now considered separately from the vertical accelerations.

Please see the Table below and the following information in this document.

For Information – Dot Point Performance Standards NTC Website, 3 October 2017

For Information – Performance Standards pg186 2nd Edition Load Restraint Guide

If it is NTC’s mission to incorporate unchanged Performance Standards into separate legislation, surely the Standards must be worded exactly the same as currently on page 186 of the 2nd Edition and therefore free of dot points. This would remove the necessity for any Regulatory Impact Statement required with the published radical change.

The proposed introduction of Dot Point Performance Standards marks a significant (and undesirable) dilution of legal performance requirements.  Unfortunately this will inevitably lead to a reversion back to the outdated industry standards and practices of the 1980’s Truck Loading Code era.

 

Application of Performance Standards:

RMIT stated that “In the case where the friction contact between the load and the deck is broken (due to going over bumps), μ is considered to be zero”.

RMIT also has further reinforced the validity of the requirements in Section “I” of the 2nd Edition Load Restraint Guide. This requires load restraint systems to be designed, certified and tested to resist the effects of repeated instantaneous states of zero friction and separation of the load from the deck under 0.2g vertical acceleration (e.g. this required for example, tilt testing of some loads on rollers).

 

To our astonishment, these Section “I” requirements have been deliberately left out of the Draft 3rd Edition without explanation.

 

This resultant lack of guidance will enable high risk practices of the past to be certified as compliant with the 3rd Edition Performance Standards by any certification engineer.

 

Current on-line technology has also enabled compliance restraint approval programs to be developed and used to provide certification of the restraint of individual loads, independent of any risk assessment.

Just One Typical Example:

Loadsafe has identified many examples of increased risk as a result of the Dot Point Performance Standards.

For example, Dot Point Performance Standards to be adopted in 2018, effectively remove the need for any Certification engineer or compliance restraint approval program to consider the effect of a vehicle riding over a kerb, gutter or speed bump during a sudden swerving manoeuvre. Any proposed new Australian 3rd Edition restraint certification need only ensure that the load has adequate sideways restraint when the vehicle swerves on a smooth surface thus allowing for example, 15mm high coaming rails to replace side gates for some contained loads in 2018.

 

This is the why friction alone, (such as unitised pallets on rubber anti-slip mat on a flush deck without effective tie-down – see Figure 1 below) has not, up to 2018, been considered safe effective sideways restraint.

The European Standard EN12195 has recently introduced a requirement that aligns with the current 2nd Ed Performance Standards regarding the example below.

Figure 1.     Just One Consequence of Dot Point Performance Standards

2. Technical Content

Review of Section E - Load Types:

The process for updating the 2nd Edition Guide included a review of Section E of the Guide by Subject Matter Experts to provide, in effect, a step by step procedure of the means to substantially increase the ability of an individual truck driver to restrain a load in accordance with the Performance Standards.

Loadsafe contributed initially to this process, but was not subsequently consulted by NTC in relation to our detailed recommendations or the subsequent change in direction from the step by step procedure to a one step “consult an engineer” module.

Just One Typical Example:

Loadsafe advised NTC that there were many technical errors in the Draft, which only very few experienced mechanical engineering experts in the country would recognise.

Loadsafe has selected one example in the Draft 3rd Edition Guide to illustrate this observation, where the advice was both wrong and professionally irresponsible and thus dangerous for a number of reasons.

It follows that many other of the numerous load type guides outlined in the Draft Guide could also be untested suggestions with unstated risks.

If a driver used just one example, a load type guide (described here as Icon 218) which represented a load restraint method for contained brick packs on a vehicle deck fitted with side gates. Loadsafe and ATCC tested a similar system in Sydney in September 2017 using the requirements of Section “I” of the 2nd Edition of the Guide.

 

Icon 218 (Figure 218 Blocked with crossover straps) showed an undefined number of brick packs of undefined pack integrity and undefined weight being restrained in the forward direction by two undefined straps, anchored on an undefined tie-rail structure using an undefined attachment method. The text included:

Always make sure forwards, rearwards and sideways blocking is to rated devices, such as certified headboards, tailboards and gates or other blocking devices rated by an engineering designer Figure 217 and Figure 218.

The Draft explicitly stated that the newly defined “blocking device” (two direct lashing straps) in Figure 218 must be rated by an engineering designer for every load type.

Loadsafe pointed out to the NTC many detailed technical issues and risks associated with just this one iconic example, namely:

  • Straps commonly used by the transport industry are not rated for sideways “pull” on a horizontal tie-rail structure when angled typically as shown in Figure 218.

  • The use of webbing straps for direct restraint involves significant stretch (up to 12%) and subsequent load and strap movement.

  • If a strap moves where it changes direction passing over an edge, such as a rolled section coaming rail or any sharp corner on the load, it could easily chafe or cut.

  • In recent Loadsafe tests of a typical Figure 218 system, two straps were significantly damaged as a result of load and strap movement.

  • This proposal in the 3rd Edition, to introduce and encourage restraint methods using direct restraint webbing lashings attached to horizontal tie-rail structures, introduces unnecessary risk and non-compliance into the Transport industry.

  • In addition, if the pack integrity is not sufficient (i.e. it had not been tested and certified with crossover straps at 0.8g), bricks may separate from the front of the pack and break into smaller fragments.

  • This proposal in the 3rd Edition, to illustrate and therefore encourage the use of restraint methods using “80’s-era” open mesh side gates, introduces unnecessary risk into the Transport industry. Any resulting broken brick fragments could dislodge through the illustrated open mesh. When designing such gates, an engineering designer would have specified the size of the mesh opening, taking into account the size of any foreseeable broken brick fragment that, in his professional engineering opinion, could dislodge from the vehicle, but safely make contact with a motorcyclist or windscreen at a possible contact speed in excess of 100 kilometres per hour. Modern brick truck side gates have solid infill panels.

Feedback from NTC (Melbourne, 20 September 2017):

NTC did not agree with Loadsafe’s assertion that the Performance Standards had been changed.

NTC also did not agree with the technical input (including examples of lower safety standards and higher risk practices) that Loadsafe, (an eminent Subject Matter Expert) had presented, on the basis that such argument can always be countered by another engineer and that Loadsafe had interpreted an example (Icon 248) of the document incorrectly, by not considering it as part of a whole document. Therefore NTC accepted that the final interpretation will be left in each specific case, to the judgement of the certifying engineer.

In addition to this vagueness of interpretation, the NTC has randomly endorsed the use of untested and uncertified methods in the Draft, whilst stating all other methods must be proven.

The Draft 3rd Edition states:

The Load Restraint Guide sets out how the Performance Standards may be met.

It is intended to be used as a guide only, as it is impossible to be prescriptive for the many different types, weights, and shapes of loads that can be transported.

If you want to use different methods to from those recommended in the load type guides, you will need to be able to prove your load restraint system meets the Performance Standards.

To Loadsafe, this is a clear and concise argument by the NTC why it should remove, prescribed uncertified technical content from the Draft, not add more.

Summary:

Due to a lack of transparency throughout the review process of the Draft 3rd Edition, Loadsafe has decided to independently publish its NTC submission of 4 August 2017 (see below). Additional supporting material (some already supplied to NTC) will also be posted and continuously updated on the Loadsafe website as independent information for Industry, Government and Compliance and Legal Professionals.

Although the NTC have asserted that improved safety is their main focus with the revision of the 2nd Edition of the Load Restraint Guide, it will not be realised in the 3rd Edition, unless the Draft is both fixed and improved.

Loadsafe will not certify a load restraint procedure based only on the 3rd Edition Performance Standards currently published, as we value the safety of our clients and the community.

For Information - Loadsafe Written Comments to NTC 4 August 2017

PROCESS

There appears to be no list of specific technical requirements contained in the 2nd Edition Guide which were excluded from the 3rd Edition Draft. There also appears to be no list of corresponding reasons for such exclusions.

 

There appears to be no list of the new technical requirements that have appeared in this Draft and there appears to be no justification for any of these new requirements.

 

There is obviously a need to harmonise all of technical requirements of both the 2nd and 3rd Editions, unless the relevant (as yet not listed) 2nd Edition technical requirements are deemed to be no longer valid.

There appears to have been no industry experienced professional engineering peer-review of the Draft during its formulation. One would expect that robust testing and examination of any new advice and recommendations would have been declared as part of the Draft issue. The current Guide has been tested and examined in Court since 2004, from which little doubt has been cast on its advice and recommendations.

 

CONTENT

The Draft contains many examples of obvious errors, omissions and misinformation, many of which, others may point out. The Draft also contains other errors, omissions and misinformation that will remain undetected without an industry experienced professional engineering peer-review.

 

The consequences of proceeding without robust testing and examination of the Draft to remove significant errors, omissions and misinformation will lead to unintended Court outcomes.  This has the potential for loss of the respect and standing enjoyed by the current Guide within the industry and community in general.

ENFORCEMENT

As you would be aware, misguided enforcement (over the past year in particular) has caused severe disruption to many of my Industry clients.  Some Regulators have acquired inaccurate or misleading information passed on during load restraint training and consultation.  The Draft has not adequately addressed these specific issues.

INNOVATION

The Draft fails to encourage the use of non-traditional vehicles and equipment. Loadsafe has developed and continues to develop, many innovative load restraint systems, vehicles and equipment, including systems that use high strength light-weight lashings and other systems that eliminate the use of tie-down lashings.

For Information – Dot Point Performance Standards NTC Website 1 October 2017

For Information – Performance Standards pg186 2nd Edition Load Restraint Guide

 

1 PERFORMANCE STANDARDS

Loads must be restrained to prevent unacceptable movement during all expected conditions of operation. The load restraint system must, therefore, satisfy the following requirements:

 

(i) The load should not become dislodged from the vehicle.

(ii) Any load movement should be limited, such that in all cases where movement occurs, the vehicle’s stability and weight distribution cannot be adversely affected and the load cannot become dislodged from the vehicle.

 

Loads that are permitted to move relative to the vehicle include loads that are effectively contained within the sides or enclosure of the vehicle body such as:

(a) Loads which are restrained from moving horizontally (limited vertical movement is permissible);

(b) Very lightweight objects or loose bulk loads (limited horizontal and vertical movement is permissible);

(c) Bulk liquids (limited liquid movement is permissible);

To achieve this, the load restraint system must be capable of withstanding the forces that would result if the laden vehicle were subjected to each of the following separately:

0.8 ‘g’ deceleration in a forward direction,

0.5 ‘g’ deceleration in a rearward direction,

0.5 ‘g’ acceleration in a lateral direction,

and to 0.2 ‘g’ acceleration relative to the load in a vertical direction.

Note: ‘g’ (the acceleration due to gravity), is equal to 9.81 metres/sec/sec for the purpose of these standards.

For Information – Draft NTC Load Restraint Guide 2017

 

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