Episode 30: Damage to the truck – When should you refuse a load?

When I am present at loading operations and observe the processes, I am always amazed at the damage to the truck that is accepted without a word by the loading employee or the loading company and the truck is loaded. Damage, even if it is not insignificant, is accepted like a summer storm against which nothing can be done.

Determination of causes

How does this behavior come about, what could be the causes and how can/must such situations be avoided?

One of the main causes seems to me to be the fact that knowledge about costs, value and equivalent value is not available or is distributed among different people. Perhaps an example that many people can relate to:

You go to the supermarket to do your shopping and need, among other things, 500 g of canned beans. The price is stated with the goods or on the packaging and is acceptable. One of the tins has a slightly damaged band and the metal has a slight dent. The contents are certainly undamaged. However, everyone opts for an undamaged can because they are entitled to a flawless product.

When transporting goods by truck, it is basically the same, but the way of thinking is not consistently implemented because there are several parties involved.

Properties of a means of transportation

Transport prices are negotiated and it is often not clear to the parties involved what they are delivering for the agreed price, or what they are supposed to get. This is exactly the crux of the matter. A means of transportation must meet the following requirements:

  1. It must be suitable in principle for the safe and regulation-compliant transportation of the goods in question. This also includes the necessary safety equipment, authorizations, exemptions, etc. The Road Traffic Regulations (STVO) and the Road Traffic Licensing Regulations (STVZO) are the essential basis for this, as are the hazardous goods regulations.
  2. The vehicle itself must comply with the technical regulations (e.g. TÜV) and be safe to operate and roadworthy.
  3. It must be available at the agreed time.

Only when points 1-3 have been clarified clearly and in detail can the most favorable provider be selected.

Detailed questions on point 1

  • Type of vehicle, open, closed, radiator, etc.
  • Sufficient payload for the goods to be transported
  • Summons admissible, yes or no
  • If form-fit loading is not possible, the number of lashing points or the necessary perforated strip
  • Number and properties of the securing devices (LC; STF; elongation; ratchet type, etc.)
  • Number and properties of aids (anti-slip mats, edge protection angles, empty pallets for head flashing, etc.)
  • It should also be clearly agreed that loading will be refused without reimbursement of costs in the event of certain damage/defects.
  • The driver also plays a role here. If he is uncooperative, overbearing towards the loading personnel or if he is unhealthy (alcohol, drugs).

Properties/circumstances for point 2

  • All technical specifications relating to operational and traffic safety. Brakes, lights, direction indicators, windshield, side mirrors, etc. This should also include features that could give rise to suspicion and trigger an inspection.
  • Load-bearing parts such as the vehicle frame, loading area, bulkhead, drop sides
  • In the case of form-fit load securing, the fastening elements for the stanchions, vehicle tarpaulin, dropside hinges, dropside locks, the transition from the bulkhead or rear portal to the loading area, etc.
  • Company-specific specifications for which damage loading is rejected. The best way to underline something like this is with exemplary pictures.

The following collection of images is intended to show examples of what defects that play a role in point 2 can look like.

Massive damage to the load-bearing frame of the cargo bed.
>> Reject loading.

Perforated strip rusted through and away. It is no longer possible to attach tension belts.
>> Reject loading.

Damaged frame of the cargo bed, a load-bearing part.
>> Reject loading.

Damage to the lighting system and thus an impairment of operational and road safety.
>> Reject loading.

A damaged tire impairs operational and road safety.
>> Reject loading.

The damage is so extensive that the fabric of the tire can already be seen.
>> Reject loading.

Structural modifications to the loading area frame. Depending on the impression given by the overall vehicle, loading should be rejected. Experience has shown that other damage is also present.

>> Depending on the overall situation, refusing would be the cleanest solution.

Dropside hinges replaced by a self-made hinge. The strength of the dropside is therefore no longer comprehensible. Form-fit stowage is no longer sufficiently secure. It would be conceivable to secure the load with straps (tie-down/direct lashing).

>> Depending on the overall situation, refusing would be the cleanest solution.

Structural modifications to the loading area frame. Depending on the impression given by the overall vehicle, loading should be rejected. Experience has shown that other damage is also present.

>> Depending on the overall situation, refusing would be the cleanest solution.


The pictures above show that you don’t have to look for obvious defects, they catch the eye. A walk around the vehicle is usually sufficient to recognize them. The decisive factor is that the subsequent action and the necessary consequences are clearly and unambiguously regulated.

Unfortunately, experience also shows that some transport companies only understand the “hard way” and only react to a rejection. The shipping company should always act in such a way that it is on legally secure ground.

Yours, Sigurd Ehringer

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