Last reviewed 13 October 2023

Operators who carry dangerous goods must make sure that they are secured so that they do not fall off the vehicle or move under normal driving conditions. If possible, they should be carried in vehicles or trailers with caged bodies; closed bodies, including tankers; and curtain-sided bodies.

If that is not possible, they should be well secured using equipment like sheets, nets and straps. It might also be necessary to use packing materials to prevent friction or chafing between packages during transport. Friction and chafing can lead to damage, products leaking, and some substances igniting.

Some hazardous materials can react dangerously with others if they are accidentally mixed during transport. They must be carried on separate vehicles if possible. If they are carried on the same vehicle, they must be segregated and secured so that the materials cannot mix, even in the event of a collision.

Never mix these substances

The following types of dangerous goods should not be carried together unless they can be effectively segregated: acids with cyanides, sulphides, or chlorites; oxidisers with flammables; flammables with toxic gases; corrosives with pressure gas containers or cylinders; foodstuffs and animal feed with toxic or infectious substances, or other dangerous goods such as asbestos. Foodstuffs must not be carried in a vehicle that has been used for transporting these goods unless the vehicle has been thoroughly cleaned. The sender of the load must inform the operator about any dangerous goods in the load that are incompatible. Where there is any doubt, the operator should get additional expert advice.

Segregate the danger

Dangerous goods can be segregated by loading the materials in separate compartments on the vehicle; over packing the individual containers with suitably strong material to provide extra protection and to contain any leaks; and stowing the containers as far apart as possible on the vehicle. Other inert cargo can be used to provide a barrier. Dangerous goods should remain segregated throughout the journey. If there are any concerns during the journey the operator’s dangerous goods safety adviser (DGSA) must be contacted immediately.

Safe storage

Gas cylinders should be either carried upright or at an angle in racks designed for that purpose and fitted on the vehicle or in lift-on-lift-off cribs or frames. Cylinders carried individually must be secured using lashings to prevent any movement in the load space that could damage the cylinders or other items in the load. Cylinders carried horizontally must have their valves protected from damage. Such protection should be in addition to the standard fittings such as surrounding rings or other protective fitments. Gas can escape under pressure if the valves become damaged. The danger is that gas escaping under pressure might propel the containers with enough significant force to cause a serious accident. Liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) containers must be carried upright to prevent the relief device malfunctioning if it encounters the liquefied gas. If small numbers of cylinders are being carried in a closed van, the cargo space must be properly ventilated. Toxic gases must not be carried in the same compartment as the driver or vehicle crew.

Securing your containers

Intermediate bulk containers (IBCs) used to transport dangerous goods must be secured with either two webbing ratchet straps or another lashing method such as a bungee tarpaulin system that distributes the securing force across the top of the IBC because the skeleton frame of an IBC usually does not have a central upright. A single ratchet strap over the IBC can deform the frame and cause the load securing system to fail. One ratchet strap over the central support can be used if a central upright is fitted. Inspect the IBCs before loading to make sure they’re in good condition. Check that there are no leaks, particularly around the fittings for filling and discharging.

Shrink-wrap barrels

When carrying barrels, they should either be shrink-wrapped and banded to a pallet to form a single unit, or plastic locators should be used if it is necessary to minimise movement. The barrels should then be secured to the vehicle or trailer using ratchet straps or similar.

Batten down the hatches

Tanks and similar containers can be rigidly attached by twist locks or similar to a vehicle or trailer. A tank container, where the tank fitted inside an ISO frame (shipping container) for multi-modal transport, must be properly secured to the vehicle. It is necessary to make sure that hatches and valves are securely closed during transport and that any hoses or ancillary equipment are properly secured. All openings, including pressure relief devices for security and leakage, should be examined before the journey.

Avoid the big bang

Explosives are sensitive to heat and may be sensitive to shock as well. Explosive cargo must be secured to prevent chafing and friction and to prevent impact between the cargo during transport. It is necessary to make sure that any other items carried in the load compartment are well secured, so they do not impact on the explosive items. This includes things like toolkits, fire extinguishers and other heavy equipment. Combustible materials such as paper or straw must not be used as packing for explosive cargoes. Explosives should not be carried with other dangerous goods to reduce the risk of fire or dangerous reactions. Consignors and vehicle operators are responsible for segregating explosives loads and complying with national and international regulations.

Radioactivity on the radar

Radioactive substances will be packed so that they do not present any hazard during transport as long as the packaging remains intact. To keep any radiation to the lowest possible level radioactive packages should be carefully stowed at the rear of the load compartment as far away as possible from the driver to prevent them getting damaged during the journey. Radioactive substances can be carried with other general cargo, but they should not be carried with explosives.

Fragile, handle with care

Glass is a high-risk load type. It should be packed and secured carefully to prevent it falling from the vehicle. Where possible, glass should be transported in a transport frame or within a box that can be secured to the vehicle. It’s particularly important to secure glass carefully if it is being transported on a flatbed, as there will be no structure to provide secondary containment. Glass can be carried on a frail (an external frame) on the exterior of a van. The glass should not extend longitudinally more than 30cm beyond the frame in total and the panes should be firmly attached to the frail.