Management of loose bulk loads

The purpose of this Safety Alert is to highlight the requirements of securing loose bulk loads before transportation on public roads.


With the rise of construction activities in the Northern Territory there is a corresponding increase in heavy vehicle movements on public roads. Many of the vehicles transport rock and sand material from quarries and extractive sites.

The Northern Territory Traffic Regulations and the Australian Road Rules make it an offence to drive or permit a person to drive a vehicle carrying a load, unless the load is arranged, contained, fastened or covered in a manner that complies with the performance standards of the Load Restraint Guide.

The Department of Lands and Planning (DLP) regulations mandate the covering of loose bulk loads on public roads and applies to all load carrying, hauling and rigid motor vehicles with a Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) greater than 12 tonne which include truck and trailer combinations.

Under Section 55(1) of the Workplace Health and Safety Act an employer has a duty to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that workers and others are not exposed to risks to health and safety arising from the conduct of the employer’s business.

There have been some recent incidents highlighting the need to ensure that loads are adequately restrained and covered.

Loose Bulk Loads can be described as follows:

  • Sand
  • Quarry products
  • Soil
  • Demolition waste materials
  • Primary products
  • Any other fine particle that could be dislodged by airflow across the open load on rough roads.

Wetting or skinning agents alone is not accepted, as per Motor Vehicle Registry Bulletin:

Action required

To help satisfy your duty of care it is essential that you undertake a risk assessment for loose bulk loads to determine the appropriate mechanism for the prevention of risk to both your workers and the public. Remember it is an offence not to fully cover your load by a load cover that is suitable for securing the load.

This assessment should take into account appropriate vehicle inspections including:

  • Prior to leaving site - load and truck inspections should occur, for overloading, tyre condition, loose material between trailers and tyres, covers are fully enclosing the load and locked in place to prevent movement during transport
  • General maintenance - Covers to be maintained in a good condition and suitable for the nature of the materials being transported. Often covers and securing mechanisms wear and break and do not afford appropriate load restraint.

NT WorkSafe inspectors will be visiting workplaces and checking that appropriate risk control mechanisms (i.e. covers) are in place.

Further information

Guidance publications


This Safety Alert contains safety information following inquires made by NT WorkSafe about an incident or unsafe practice. The information contained in this Alert does not necessarily include the outcome of NT WorkSafe’s action with respect to an incident. NT WorkSafe does not warrant the information in this Alert is complete or up-to-date and does not accept any liability for the information in this report or as to its use.