The Association of European Vehicle Logistics (ECG) has presented the findings of its Health and Safety Working Group survey into the dangers of loading and unloading car transporters, and how safety can be improved.

Throughout 2019 and 2020, the association collected anonymised incident reports from members and categorised the incidents in ‘slips, trips, falls and other’, ‘roll-offs’ and ‘falls from height’. The incident reports are submitted through the ECG’s website.


It found that the first category, of slips, trips, falls, is by far the most common, followed by roll-offs and falls from height. Ultimately, the Health and Safety Working Group found that most incidents could have been avoided if drivers followed proper procedure.

During the webinar to present the report, co-chair of the working group and general manager for vehicle logistics at Toyota Motor Europe, Steve Thomas, said: “The thing that I want the industry to grasp is the falls – so many are coming from the lack of a three-point contact. Let’s get inside the mind of our drivers that they have to keep three points of contact with the truck.”

He urged members to look at the findings and think about how they can be applied in their companies, adding: “If we all follow the safe working method and if we all create safe loading environments, we can make this industry a safer industry.”

At the presentation of the report it was noted that the group had not received as many reports as it had hoped, at just 85 for the year 2019. Despite being able to draw useful conclusions from that data, the group is calling on the logistics industry to submit as many reports as possible, including near misses that could have led to a serious accident, but didn’t.

“I hope you will understand that your struggles are the industry’s struggles and that the industry’s safety working group is trying to countermeasure the issues that you are making us aware of,” Thomas said. “Our safety working group can only tackle the issues you make us aware of”.

The group stressed that any reports remain confidential, as only ECG has access to the data, and the working group only analyses the circumstances of the accident. Information such as company names or locations are not shared.

Key actions
Mike Sturgeon, executive director of the ECG, summarised a number of key points of improvement, commenting: “Incidents can be avoided, and that is of course the whole reason why we are doing this. It is to try to help you to avoid [accidents] and make the industry safer.”

He said that avoiding slips, trips and falls is about preparing the decks correctly, consulting the trailer manufacturers’ manuals and using them, avoiding running and jumping, and maintaining three points of contact where necessary.

Vehicle roll-offs are also a training issue, complicated by electronic handbrakes replacing standard systems in most new cars and causing some confusion. Drivers should be familiar with the products they are handling, respect the four-step parking process, and lash cars before manoeuvring the decks.

Finally, falls from height can be avoided by reminding staff to work on the ground as much as possible and maintain three points of contact when on the decks. Companies should also have regular audits to make sure that safety rails, for example are installed and free of damage.

Earlier this year, the health and safety working group published detailed guidance on safe loading processes and safe yard design. The latest report, with detailed figures and analysis of submitted incidents, can also be downloaded from the ECG’s website.