Episode 4: Who is responsible for load securing?

Quite simply – always the other one 😊

The existing sense of justice leaves many people involved in transportation already in the basics when asked about “the” person responsible. At least 2 or more vicarious agents always meet.

When goods are transported under German law (e.g. freight law according to §§ 407ff. HGB, forwarding law according to §§ 453 ff. HGB, ADSp) or according to international law (international transportation by road according to CMR), different vicarious agents of the contracting parties always meet. The transportation of goods is almost always subject to these conditions.

The physical handover of the goods to be transported does not have to be carried out by the shipper or consignor; they can also commission third parties to do this. This is not unusual and naturally also applies to the transportation of dangerous goods.

Operational safety

Operational safety must be ensured by the vehicle driver and carrier. The technical equipment and the aids carried must be in perfect technical condition. In addition, the driver and the freight forwarder are also responsible for the inspection obligations , e.g. for the lashing equipment (annual inspection).

If a so-called “sub-forwarder relationship” arises, the obligations for operational safety must be complied with without restriction. The driver must also define the load distribution requirements on site. This is not primarily the responsibility of the shipper, as the shipper is not primarily responsible for the vehicle provided and certainly not primarily responsible.

What are the obligations of the carrier/driver/forwarder (in self-entry) in connection with loading?
  • Safe loading (§ 412 HGB) – e.g. load distribution
  • Safe stowage of the load (§ 22 Para. 1 StVO)
  • Proper and unimpaired vehicle operation (driver; Section 23 (1) StVO)
How can the legal requirement for operational safety be implemented by the driver?
  • He must provide a suitable and safe vehicle
  • The vehicle must be registered in accordance with § 16 of the German Road Traffic Licensing Regulations. § Section 30 para. 1 No. 1 StVZO must be constructed and equipped in such a way that normal road use does not harm anyone or endanger, hinder or inconvenience anyone more than is unavoidable
  • Motor vehicle liability insurance in accordance with §§ 29 ff. StVZO must be present
  • The vehicle must be suitable for transporting the load (dimensions, weight, loading/unloading) and, if necessary, have special technical equipment for the load
  • Carry standard, reusable load securing equipment appropriate to the load (e.g. technically sound lashing equipment)
What steps should drivers and shippers take when loading?

The driver and the consignor/shipper agree on proper weight distribution in advance. The driver/carrier or freight forwarder must determine the load distribution for this purpose. Because he has the most knowledge about his vehicle and its technology.
In addition, the driver must instruct the loader that the vehicle is loaded with regard to the maximum permissible single-axle weights. Here the driver is authorized to issue instructions.

The shipper must specify how his cargo must be loaded in a manner that is safe for transportation. Because only he has the specialist knowledge required for this.
The driver must then check this, insofar as his specialist knowledge permits. The driver is therefore obliged to cooperate.

If it is apparent that safe loading is not possible or not sufficient, the driver must inform the shipper of this circumstance and may also refuse the journey. This is because additional measures must then be taken in order to comply with the statutory requirements of StVO § 22.

When is loading safe for transportation?

Loading is safe for transportation if the safe operation of the vehicle is not impaired by the goods, no one can be endangered, hindered or inconvenienced and the technical characteristics of the vehicle are complied with. This includes:

  • Compliance with the dimensions, axle loads and load distribution plan
  • Stability of the vehicle and its body
  • Braking ability

The driver is also obliged to inform the shipper of the prescribed limits for the permissible total weight, axle loads and dimensions.

Who has to pay attention to the load’s center of gravity and weight distribution?

Regardless of whether the carrier or the sender is responsible for loading, the carrier must ensure that the vehicle can cope with any traffic situation after loading and during the entire transport. And this applies for the entire duration of the trip.

Accordingly, the goods loaded onto the vehicle must not impermissibly impair either the stability of the vehicle or its braking ability. It must therefore also be ensured that the goods do not fall off the vehicle and that the safety regulations are otherwise complied with. This applies in particular to the maximum permissible weight, the extent of the load, securing of protruding goods, etc.

The more specialized knowledge is required to ensure operational safety, the higher the demands on the carrier. The carrier must therefore inquire about the weight and also the center of gravity of the goods (see Koller, TranspR-Kommentar, 10th edition, 2020, § 412, Rd.-Nr. 42).

Operational safety when loaded requires that the motor vehicle can carry the load safely under normal circumstances. The driver is responsible for this, even if others, whom he is not supervising, load the vehicle or if he takes over the vehicle for further driving. Strict requirements must be placed on the driver’s diligence. This applies in particular to oversized and heavy loads.

Shipper obligations

Basic obligations of the shipper/consignor/client in connection with loading

There are various constellations in which a loading transaction can be concluded. Whereas this is usually the producer with its own logistics department. However, in the course of outsourcing processes, it is also possible to commission responsible independent employees and units that do not belong to the company. But be careful! If a contract is concluded in which specific tasks such as the loading of big bags are agreed, it must also be ensured that it is clear how this is to be done and in which vehicles.

But the most important point is whether the big bags with the products can be transported safely at all or whether they have to be transported in a container because they are particularly unstable. There must be clarity about this in the context of outsourcing processes. If this is not done, the partnership between producer and service provider will not be able to continue successfully in the event of disputes or accidents.

What are the shipper’s most important obligations?
  • Packaging obligation (§ 411 HGB or No. 6 ADSp or Art. 10 CMR) or also GGVSEB/RID/ADR/IMDG/ICEO
  • Labeling obligation (§ 411 HGB or section 6.1.2 ADSp), important in case of off-center center of gravity this must be recognizable (see also HPE guideline)
  • Information obligation (§§ 410, 413 HGB or No. 3.3 . 3.6 ADSp), are there moving parts or even liquids inside the packaging or the transported goods that lead to a change in physical behavior?
  • He is obliged to load (§ 412 HGB)
  • The shipper must provide the relevant documents (e.g. consignment note in accordance with § 408 HGB or Art. 11 CMR)
  • He must ensure safe loading for transportation (§ 412 HGB)
  • The load must be stowed in a roadworthy manner. (§ 22 para. 1 StVO)
What information must the shipper provide?

Providing information and advice; e.g:

  • Dimensions, weight, tipping behavior of the load, as an exemption/permit may be required
  • Contents of the packed consignment
  • Incompatibility (charging together, contact with surface)
  • Provision of necessary papers / documents
  • B.: Dangerous goods documents, papers for international transportation (customs, etc.)
  • The carrier is entitled to rely on the information provided by the sender
  • Provide transportable cargo with transport-safe packaging and equipment for securing the load:
  • Transportability
  • A load can only be transported if it can be secured by itself
  • Sensitive machines should be stored in sturdy wooden crates, for example
  • Cargo, tensioning chains, equipment and other loading equipment must be stowed in a roadworthy manner
  • Transport-safe packaging (shipper/producer’s knowledge of the goods)
The following transport characteristics are decisive:
  • Vehicle, track (vibrations, centrifugal forces in tight bends)
  • Emergency situations (possible emergency braking)
  • Weather & season (heat, cold)
  • Securing individual packages on pallets / in containers
  • Sufficiently dimensioned load securing equipment, e.g. lashing points, load zones: Lashing points, load zones
  • Carrying out safe loading for transportation:
  • Loading & stowage: Requires the goods to be protected against loss or damage caused by external influences during transportation
  • Centrifugal forces during cornering
  • Acceleration forces during sudden braking shocks and evasive maneuvers
  • Vertical forces due to poor road conditions as well as chafing, rubbing and pressure should be prevented
  • Fastening: Securing the load
  • protect the load against dynamic influences by means of lashing straps, wedges or other suitable aids
  • Secure while driving (see above)
  • Secure the load against falling over, falling down and shifting on the loading area
  • The consignor may not assume that the carrier, in view of the excessive fragility of the goods, is particularly
  • drives carefully or slowly or avoids particularly bad roads
  • If, in exceptional cases, the load does not permit transportation within the legal vehicle dimensions and/or axle loads or total masses, a special permit in accordance with § 46 StVO and/or a permit in accordance with § 29 Para. 3 StVO necessary
  • The shipper must ensure within the scope of the permit that
  • the approved vehicle dimensions and loading dimension overruns
  • the permitted permissible axle loads and gross weights
  • must not be exceeded
  • If the shipper does not prevent unauthorized transport, he is acting in violation of the regulations. He therefore has a duty to ensure that the approved exceptions are complied with (shared responsibility).

Anyone who frequently loads vehicles usually knows the common vehicle types and their permissible total weight. He is expected to estimate the permissible payload of the vehicle. Therefore, significantly exceeding the permissible weight can be counted as intent.

Checking the (additional) marking for vehicles with excess width/excess length or for loads protruding beyond the vehicle (for road safety and as a condition of the permit).

What other legal aspects of load securing need to be considered? You will find out more about this in the next episode.

Yours, Wolfgang Neumann

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