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The safety practices and precautions when working with trailers - Blog

All the safety practices and precautions you need to know when it comes to using trailers and doing trailer checks in the workplace.

GAP Group’s Think Safe campaign was launched in 2018 to encourage and deepen a strong health and safety culture in the workplace. To accompany this, the Group created and introduced its Interactive Toolbox Talks (ITBTs) a year later.

GAP’s ITBTs are a free online tool which allow users to navigate a virtual work site while learning about various health and safety topics across 15 different modules. Our Trailer Checks module provides guidance on three main subjects:

  • The responsibilities and precautions to be taken when working with trailers, plant and equipment
  • Pre-use checks prior to work starting as well as daily checks
  • Securing the load on the trailer

There are a number of regulations that should be considered regarding the safety measures related to trailer checks:

  • The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998
  • The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • The Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008
  • Personal Protective Equipment at Work

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998 is the key regulation that GAP’s Trailer Check Toolbox Talk focuses on. PUWER states that equipment provided for use at work is:

  • Suitable for the intended use
  • Safe for use
  • Inspected and maintained in a safe and road worthy condition
  • Used only by people who have received adequate information, instruction and training


The hire provider as well as the customer has a legal duty of care to ensure trailers are checked/inspected before hire.

Hirers and users of trailers have duties by law to ensure the equipment is safe, the aim is to prevent accidents and injuries. Work equipment should always be safe when supplied.

Employers and duty holders must:

  • Make sure that vehicles used in the workplace are safe to use, correct for the job at hand, driven and accessed safely and regularly inspected
  • Make sure that work equipment is regularly maintained in good working order and in good repair
  • Make sure that any loads are safely secured to the trailer and that the vehicle is strong enough to carry the load

Drivers will require information, instruction and training to ensure that any defects identified with the equipment during the daily and/or pre-use checks are reported immediately. GAP can supply a list of daily and pre-use checks.

The risks during use also need to be controlled. Those in control should:

  • Assess the risk
  • Plan safe systems of work
  • Ensure that the safe systems of work are communicated and followed
  • Ensure all drivers are properly trained and competent in the operation of all trailers, plant and equipment


There are various pre-use and daily checks that should be performed before anyone uses trailers for any purpose. The below should always be considered before work takes place:

  • PPE: does the driver have the correct PPE? – hi-vis clothing, a hard hat, safety footwear and gloves
  • Operating instructions: has the driver read and understood the operating instructions?
  • Safe systems of work: has the driver checked and understood the safe system of work that has been put in place for the given task?
  • Daily checks: has the driver carried out the all-important daily checks?

At the start of each working day various areas of the trailer should be checked, as indicated below.

What should you do if the daily checks reveal a problem with the trailer? The supervisor should be notified immediately, and a defect report log should be completed. The hire company should also be informed.

Loading plant machinery and equipment

When loading plant on to a trailer, the following points must be taken into account:

  • Ensure the VIN (vehicle identification number) plate is in place, showing axle weights
  • Check that the hitch height of the trailer is compatible with the towing vehicle
  • The plant is positioned centrally over the two axles – allowing for the weight to be evenly distributed between each axle
  • Ensure the straps and other safety measures are in place

There is a video within our ITBT on Trailer Checks showing you exactly how to safely load and unload plant machinery on a trailer.

Failure to secure the load on a trailer could result in the loss of the load and prosecution.

Important points to remember

  • Equipment should only be used by people who have been trained
  • Consider the risks to other people who are nearby when operating equipment
  • Before use, ensure that equipment has no defects
  • Bring any defects to the attention of the supervisor and, where appropriate, inform the hire company
  • Be aware of any pre-use checks and carry them out
  • Always check the means of communication required with others during use
  • Do not carry any passengers unless designed to do so
  • Observe site speed limits
  • Always obtain assistance when reversing

For more information on trailer checks and using/operating trailers, have a look at our educational video here:

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