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Directive 2014/47/EU on the technical roadside inspection of the roadworthiness of commercial vehicles circulating in the Union

Directive 2014/47/EU constitutes a fundamental step forward for the EU harmonization of technical roadside inspections, including the inspection of cargo securing to detect any deficiencies.

Each Member State has adopted the Directive and published all the national laws and regulations necessary to comply with this Directive, which measures are in force since May 20, 2018. It applies to vehicles having a maximum mass exceeding 3,5 tonnes.

Directive 2014/47/EU

The new provisions on cargo securing

Let’s see what are the innovations introduced concering the load securing technical roadside ispections by analyzing the salient points of Directive 2014/47/EU.

“consideranda” (16) states:

Securing of cargo is crucial for road safety. Cargo should therefore be secured in such a way as to cope with accelerations occurring during the use of the vehicle on road. For the sake of practicality, the mass-forces resulting from such accelerations should be used as limit values based on European standards. Personnel involved in checking whether cargo is adequately secured should be appropriately trained.

The point above introduces the fundamental concept of mass forces resulting from accelerations, developed by the EN 12195-1 standard for the calculation of the forces necessary to the cargo securing. Specific training is also provided for the inspectors involved in checking the cargo securing, so every State Member is required to adopt specific cargo securing training programs.

The “consideranda” (17) assignes responsibilities and requires the cooperation between all the parties involved in the logistic process:

All parties involved in the logistic process, including packers, loaders, transport companies, operators and drivers, have a role to play in ensuring that cargo is properly packed and loaded on a suitable vehicle.

The few lines above briefly express the general philosophy of Directive 2014/47/EU, that is to make all parties involved in the logistics process responsible for the safety of the load. In fact, a safe load passes through three fundamental phases: adequate packing, the choice of a vehicle suitable for the type of load and mode of transport, the correct execution and securing of the load. The collaboration of all the parties involved in the process is therefore necessary.

Cargo securing inspection

The key point for verifying the cargo securing is reported in Article 13, where we read:

Article 13

Inspection of cargo securing

1.   During a roadside inspection a vehicle may be subject to an inspection of its cargo securing in accordance with Annex III, in order to ensure that the cargo is secured in such a way that it does not interfere with safe driving, or pose a threat to life, health, property or the environment. Checks may be carried out to verify that during all kinds of operation of the vehicle, including emergency situations or uphill starting manoeuvres:
— loads can only minimally change their position relative to each other, against walls or surfaces of the vehicle, and
— loads cannot leave the cargo space or move outside the loading surface.

2.   Without prejudice to the requirements applicable to transport of certain categories of goods, such as those covered by the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR), cargo securing and inspection of the securing of cargo may be carried out in accordance with the principles and, where appropriate, the standards laid down in Section I of Annex III. The latest version of the standards laid down in point 5 of Section I of Annex III may be used.

3. The follow-up procedures referred to in Article 14 may also apply in the case of major or dangerous deficiencies related to cargo securing.

4. Member States shall provide that personnel involved in cargo securing checks are to be appropriately trained for that purpose.

Who performs technical roadside inspections?

Each State Member, through national laws and regulations, establishes who are the subjects in charge of performing technical roadside inspections on cargo securing according to Directive 2014/47/EU. For instance, in Italy these inspections are performed by Motorizzazione Civile technician and Polizia Stradale officers according to Circolare Prot. n. 300/A/9133/19/108/5/1 del 29/10/2019, issued by Ministero dell’Interno.

Technical standards for cargo securing inspections

Article 13 of Directive 2014/47/EU, for inspection of cargo securing, recalls the technical standards set out in Annex III, section I, listed below:

EN 12195-1Calculation of lashing forces
EN 12640Lashing points
EN 12642Strength of vehicle body structure
EN 12195-2Web lashings made from man-made fibres
EN 12195-3Lashing chains
EN 12195-4Lashing steel wire ropes
ISO 1161, ISO 1496ISO container
EN 283Swap bodies
EN 12641Tarpaulins
EUMOS 40511Poles – Stanchions
EUMOS 40509Transport Packaging

This introduces a novelty in the inspection of cargo securing, as the securing inspection based on the standards listed above takes on an analytical-quantitative character, instead of a visual-qualitative inspection. For further clarification, during the inspection the inspectors will not only check if there are web lashings, but will assess whether the number of lashings used is consistent with the calculation made according to the EN 12195-1 standard.

It is concluded that, in order to comply with the new requirements imposed by Directive 2014/47/EU, it will no longer be sufficient just to secure the cargo some way, but it will be necessary to check whether the securing method adopted is adequate.

Assessment of deficiencies

The inspection of the cargo securing is aimed at identifying any deficiencies that could constitute a danger during transport.

Annex III, section II, point 1 of the Directive 2014/47/EU shows the classification of deficiencies:

1.   Classification of deficiencies
Deficiencies shall be classified in one of the following deficiency groups:

— Minor deficiency: a minor deficiency exists when the load has been properly secured but a safety advice might be appropriate.
— Major deficiency: a major deficiency exists when the load has not been sufficiently secured and a significant shifting or overturning of the load or parts thereof is possible.
— Dangerous deficiency: a dangerous deficiency exists when traffic safety is directly endangered due to a risk of loss of cargo or parts thereof or a hazard deriving directly from the cargo or an immediate endangering of persons

Where several deficiencies are present, the transport is classified in the highest deficiency group. If, in the event that there are several deficiencies, as the effects based on the combination of those deficiencies are expected to reinforce one another, the transport shall be classified in the next higher deficiency level.

An extremely detailed checklist is used for the assessment of deficiencies, which allows the inspector to promptly check each aspect of cargo securing and establish the level of severity of any deficiencies detected. For example, it is checked whether the lashings used, by type, number, arrangement, are adequate to ensure correct securing of the cargo. Or, in the case of securing by blocking, it is assessed whether the strenght of the vehicles walls is adequate to block the cargo.

Following the identification of major or dangerous deficiencies, the provisions set out in Article 14 of Directive 2014/47/EU apply, which may provide for their rectification before the vehicle is is further used on public roads or, where this is not possible, the vehicle may be brought to an available location where it can be repaired.

Penalties related to the securing of the cargo

Article 25 of the Directive 2014/47/EU requires the Member States to lay down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of the provisions on cargo securing. ln Italy the D.M. 215 dated 19/05/2017, article 21, rules the penalties for deficiencies found during technical roadside ispections. In particular, for penalties it refers to article 79 of the Legislative Decree 30 April 1992, n. 285 – Codice della strada, which currently provides a penalty from € 85 to € 338. There is no deduction of points on the driving license.

European best practices guidelines on cargo securing for road transport

European best practices guidelines on cargo securing for road transport

In order to facilitate all the parties in applying the provisions of Directive 2014/47/EU, the European best practices guidelines on cargo securing, available here, have been updated.

These best practice guidelines can be a reference for all public or private parties directly or indirectly concerned by cargo securing, and they should be used as a help to deal with the technical inspections introduced by the Directive 2014/47/EU.

Scope and objectives

The first chapter, “Scope and objectives” contains some interesting ideas for carrying out an analysis of responsibilities and for regulating the relationships between the stakeholders. Here are some salient passages:

These European Best Practice Guidelines are based on the European standard EN 12195-1.

Following the principles of Directive 2014/47/EU, the guidelines propose an analytical approach for the cargo securing sizing, presenting the calculations based on the EN 12195-1 standard.

Chapter 1.3 is of particular importance which, although to be integrated with the national legislation of each State Member, provides a point of view of absolute interest to frame the responsibilities of a company and regulate relations between the stakeholder. In fact, we read:

1.3. Functional responsibilities
All parties involved in the logistics process, including packers, loaders, transport companies, operators and drivers, have a role to play in ensuring that cargo is properly packed and loaded on a suitable vehicle.

It is therefore very simplistic to consider the responsibility for the safety of the load exclusively in the hands of a single stakeholder, and it is absolutely wrong and without any foundation to attribute such responsibility to the driver alone. We also read:

It is very important to understand that responsibilities for cargo securing are based on international conventions and regulations, national legislation and/or contracts between involved parties. A contractual agreement on functional responsibilities is advisable. In absence of such agreement between the involved parties and notwithstanding any legislation, the chain of responsibility described below identifies major functional responsibilities – related to the securing of the cargo:

Therefore the guideline recommends a contract agreement between the parties which regulates the activities in every phase of the logistic process, and which consequently defines limits and responsibilities.

Three steps for cargo securing

The activities concerning the securing of the cargo are divided into 3 phases:

it is the phase where the actual loading takes place. Adequate fixing must be carried out and the loading plan referred to in the previous point must be respected. The fact that in many cases it is the driver who physically carries out the fastening, using straps or other similar devices, should not be misleading: the responsibility for the correct carrying out of the operations does not rest only on him!

  1. Transport planning: at this stage it is necessary to properly pack the goods to be loaded, make the loading plan on the basis of the selected transport unit and check that the equipment for securing the load is present and adequate.
  2. Loading: it is the phase where the actual loading takes place. Adequate securing must be carried out and the loading plan referred to in the previous point must be respected. The fact that in many cases it is the driver who carries out the securing of the cargo, using web lashings or other similar devices, should not be misleading: the responsibility for the correct carrying out of the operations does not rest only on him!
  3. Driving: the driver must, as far as possible, inspect the cargo to verify that situations arise which could create a danger during transport, such as loosening of the web lashings due to vibrations or incorrect initial positioning of the same.

Here are the key steps contained in the guidelines:

Responsibilities/actions related to transport planning:
1. correct description of the cargo including at least
a) the mass of the load and each load unit
b) the position of the center of gravity of each load unit if not in the middle
c) enveloping dimensions of each load unit
d) limitations for stacking and orientation to be applied during transport
e) all additional information that is required for proper securing
2. ensuring that load units are suitably packed to withstand the stresses which are to be expected under normal transport conditions including applicable lashing forces
3. ensuring that dangerous goods are correctly classified, packed and labelled
4. ensuring the dangerous goods transport documents are completed and signed
5. ensuring the vehicle and the securing equipment are suitable for the cargo to be transported
6. ensuring all information related to the load securing capacities of the vehicle is communicated to the loader
7. ensuring no unwanted interaction between cargo of different loaders can occur

Responsibilities/actions related to loading:
1. ensuring that only cargo which is safe and suitable for transport, is loaded
2. checking if a load securing plan is available when starting to load
3. ensuring all certificates of vehicle parts used for the securing of the cargo, can be provided
4. ensuring the vehicle is in sound condition and the loading compartment is clean
5. ensuring all equipment necessary for load securing is available in a sound condition when starting to load
6. ensuring the floor of the vehicle is not overstressed during loading operations
7. ensuring that the cargo is correctly distributed in the vehicle, taking into account the load distribution on the vehicle axes and the acceptable gaps (in the securing plan if available)
8. ensuring that the vehicle is not overloaded
9. ensuring that necessary additional equipment such as anti-slip mats, stuffing and dunnage materials, blocking bars and all other securing equipment that should be fixed during loading, are properly applied (according to the securing plan if available)
10. ensuring the vehicle is properly sealed if and when applicable
11. ensure all lashing equipment is properly applied (according to the securing plan if available)
12. closing of the vehicle when applicable

Responsibilities/actions related to driving:

1. visual inspection of the outside of the vehicle and of the cargo if accessible to check for evident unsafe situations
2. ensuring all certificates/markings of vehicle parts used for the securing of the cargo, can be provided if necessary
3. regular checks of cargo securing during the transport journey as far as accessible

Chapter 1 also shows the list of standards to be used for the design and verification of cargo securing, and there are interesting considerations on the vehicle load distribution diagram, fundamental in order not to exceed the maximum permissible axle loads of the vehicle.

Technical issues and calculations related to cargo securing

The following chapters of the guideline deal with the more technical aspects related to cargo securing, in order to meet the technical inspections requirements provided by the Directive 2014/47/EU.

Chapter 2 focuses on the transport unit, which must be chosen carefully, verifying its suitability for the load and transport to be carried out. The vehicles approved according to the EN 12642 standard, containers and swap bodies are described, with the aim of providing parties with the elements for a correct use of the transport unit, exploiting its full potential.

Chapter 3 contains useful provisions for correct packing. This phase is often neglected as it is considered that the safety of the load is limited to the phase of loading and consequent securing. But the safety of the transport starts much earlier! The packing activity and the composition of the pallet is in fact preparatory to be able to load and secure the goods correctly for transport. A poorly constituted, irregularly shaped, not very compact pallet will make it impossible to secure it correctly once loaded. Various solutions are proposed for palletizing, with the use of retractable film, elastic caps, stretch film, straps and nets.

Load securing equipment and methods

Chapter 4 focuses on securing equipment, describing the following elements:

  • lashing equipment, consisting of web lashings, chains and steel wire ropes, anti slip mats;
  • blocking equipment, consisting for example of blocking bars;
  • filler materials, to avoid leaving empty spaces in the load compartment;
  • corner protectors, necessary for the correct positioning and protection of web lashings;
  • net and covers for protection and securing of the cargo.

Chapter 5 describes the usable securing methods, consisting of:

Chapter 6 shows the calculations for the correct sizing of the load securing according to the EN 12195-1 standard. Chapter 7, on the other hand, reports the classification of deficiencies envisaged by Directive 2014/47/EU. This is used on the occasion of the techincal roadside inspections in force May 20, 2018.

Finally, Chapter 8 gives specific examples of cargo securing for particular types of goods.

The appendices provide a practical guide to lashing and a table containing the coefficients of friction for the most common contact interfaces. In the final part there is the control checklist required by Directive 2014/47/EU for the techincal roadside inspections.