Loading and unloading flatbed trucks at shipping and receiving sites


A number of serious incidents have occurred whereby truck drivers were fatally injured or suffered amputations when unstable freight fell from a flatbed trailer and struck the driver. These accidents occurred during loading or unloading operations at sites not under the control of the driver’s employer, and when motorized material handling equipment was being operated by employees of the sites receiving the material. Drivers have a vital role in the proper loading of their trucks, because they are responsible for the road-worthiness and stability of the load. Unstable loads may consist of pipe, timber, or other materials.


Factors that can lead to accidents or injury on or around flatbed trailers while loading or unloading loads include:

Eliminating and Controlling the Hazard

Drivers must be aware of the following measures that can help prevent accidents and injuries during the loading or unloading of materials onto or off of flatbed trucks:

Legislative Requirements

Employers shall ensure that the health and safety of employees working during the process of loading or unloading of a truck is protected at all sites. The Canada Labour Code Part II extends beyond the conventional work place and requires that employers ensure that the health and safety of employees is protected while conducting all work activities. Regulations require that hazards be known, quantified and controlled.

The Hazard Prevention Program found in Part XIX of the Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations(COHSR) requires employers to identify hazards in the workplace. The Labour Program’s Hazard Prevention Program Guide provides assistance in implementing a hazard prevention program that meets Part XIX of the COHSR.

To ensure the health and safety of employees on site while loading or unloading a truck, employers must consult the Policy Health and Safety Committee (where they exist) or the Work Place Health and Safety Committee or Representative to:

Additional Resources

For further information, please contact the ESDC Labour Program office at 1-800-641-4049. The Labour Program websiteprovides information on occupational health and safety topics such as: Right to Know, Right to refuse dangerous work, and Health and Safety Committees. For further information on hazards associated with loading and unloading see the following publications “Aches and Pains – Loading and Unloading a Truck” and “Tarping and Untarping on a Flatbed Trailer”.

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