Safe transport of goods and materials

Minimise the risks of transporting goods

It's important to take steps to minimise risks when you are transporting goods and materials.

Key risks include goods damaged in transit, loss and theft, fire, explosion, chemical burns and other accidents. You should also consider environmental and other damage caused by spillages or leaks.

Read about risk assessment in the workplace in our guide on managing risks in your business.

There are some useful steps you can take to protect your goods against common risks:

  • Ensure you use the most appropriate form of transport for your goods.
  • Consider how best to protect large, heavy or unusual loads.
  • Ensure loads are secure and weight is distributed evenly - this is essential, even if you're just carrying a ladder on the roof of a vehicle.
  • Consider whether you need goods-in-transit or marine insurance to protect goods being transported. This may be paid for by the buyer or seller of goods, depending on the terms of trade you agree.
  • Always take appropriate security measures. For example, for high-value goods you could consider using a vehicle-tracking system.
  • Make sure suitable packaging, labelling and containers are used. It's common for goods to be damaged in transit and good protection and effective packaging will help reduce this risk.
  • Put suitable warning signs on vehicles - for example, to indicate an overhanging, wide, long or hazardous load.

You should also remember that employees' health and safety could be at risk when loading and unloading goods. See our guides on how to ensure employees' safety when lifting and carrying and on transport in the workplace.

You can download the guide to health and safety in road haulage from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website (PDF, 176K).