Loading and Unloading a Van Safely: Our Tips
If you’re running a one-person delivery business, you’ll spend a lot of your time taking things in and out of the back of your vehicle. If the items you’re delivering are cumbersome or heavy, this can spell trouble – and thus it’s worth thinking about best loading and lifting practice.
Start with the Big Stuff
To use your space as efficiently as possible, get large items like fridges loaded first. It’s a lot easier to find space for a small item than it is to cram large ones in at the end. Add to this the fact that your larger items are likely to be heavier than your small ones, and therefore capable of inflicting crushing damage, and the sense of starting with the big stuff becomes obvious.
Spread the Load
Obviously, you don’t want your van to be unbalanced. As such, avoid stacking everything on one side of the van. Push everything right to the rear, and secure small items beneath seats to prevent them from flying around when you go over a speed bump. To be sure that you’re not overloading your van, learn its maximum loading capacity, and figure out a rough idea of when you’re approaching it.
Secure the Load
The interior of your van should provide anchoring points, to which you’ll be able to attach straps. Use these to keep your goods fixed into position. This step is especially worthwhile if you’re transporting fragile goods. Replacement straps are inexpensive, so invest in them before your old ones snap.
Choose the Right Area
Ideally, you’ll want to unload your cargo onto a flat surface that’s out of the way of traffic. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. Since we don’t get to pick our cargo’s destination, it’s worth taking a few measures to limit the risk. If you’re unloading onto an incline, put brake chocks beneath the wheels. If items look as though they’ve moved during transit, treat them with special caution, as they’re the most likely to move again when you start to unload them.
Should I Get Help?
There comes a point when a cargo is so heavy that you’ll need a second pair of hands to safely transport it from the back of the vehicle to the front door. In such cases, don’t be tempted to do the work by yourself: either bring a friend along for the ride, or invest in some mechanical assistance. If your van isn’t capable of unloading this sort of cargo, then don’t take on the job!
What about Back Injuries?
The NHS provides a pretty comprehensive guide to avoiding back injuries when handling heavy objects. Plan the lift before making it. Keep your back straight, and avoid twisting. Keep your head up so that you can see where you’re going, and keep the load positioned close to your chest. If you’re frequently carrying heavy loads, then bring along a trolley for the ride. If you’re recovering from a back injury, then don’t attempt any heavy lifts until you’re entirely free from pain.