All you need to know about the loading security protocol


by Clémence Levieil, on 7/27/2023

5 min read

Definition of the loading and unloading safety protocol 

What is it for?

The loading and unloading safety protocol is an essential transport document! What's the point? Quite simply because road haulage is one of the most accident-prone sectors, and it's vital to prevent accidents.

Loading/unloading a truck involves inserting goods, whatever they may be, into or removing them from a truck.


In road transport, 70% of accidents take place when the vehicle is on the loading dock, compared with 10% on the road.

To prevent these accidents, we need to use prevention. Prevention means : 

  • Accurate risk assessment, considering all possible scenarios;

  • Good communication between the partners involved in transport;

  • Timely preparation and transmission of the safety protocol document.

  • Exact definition of safety protocol

In concrete terms, the safety protocol is a written document that forms a contract between the company hosting the transport (the logistics site) and the carrier taking charge of the goods. 

It must contain all the key information on the methods to be followed and the risks to which the driver and vehicle are exposed during transport. There are several types of safety protocol.

The repetitive safety protocol

Two companies that often do business together, i.e. a carrier that often carries out the same transport for a shipper, may draw up only one safety protocol. This is accepted by the regulations. 

Does this make any difference to the way in which the nature, condition, quantity and weight of the goods are recorded? All this information is subject to change from time to time.

In reality, we need to make sure that the conditions under which operations are carried out do not involve any major changes. Article R. 4515-9 of the French Labor Code specifies that this modification must not be "significant, in any of its constituent elements", in relation to that published on the protocol.

What is a repetitive operation in this case? It is an operation : 

  • which "involves products or substances of the same nature" ;

  • takes place in the same place;

  • uses the same methods;

  • uses the same vehicle, electric truck or not, or at least the same category;

  • uses the same handling equipment.

As soon as one of these criteria is not met, or the carrier is not the same as usual, the repetitive nature of the operation is not recognized, and a one-off safety protocol is required.

The nature and packaging of the goods: special attention required

If the products transported differ from one another but are of the same nature, and the loading/unloading method is the same, the transport is considered repetitive. A list of everything likely to be transported, with appropriate instructions, is welcome to facilitate understanding and control of this type of transport. If possible, it should be added as soon as the protocol is drawn up.

Appointment scheduling: a remedy for greater on-site safety

One way to ensure greater safety for your drivers, and to reduce the cost of waiting times on loading bays, is to make appointments!

Dashdoc responds to this problem with its special time slot booking product !

When is it useful? And mandatory?

When it comes to transporting goods, there's one thing you need to remember: a safety protocol is almost always compulsory! As soon as a transport company sends a truck to a host company or a transient loading/unloading platform, strict regulations and a safety protocol must be applied, whatever the goods involved.

This means that a carrier or shipper must pay close attention to a number of elements on site: 

  • Handling;

  • Vehicle movement within company premises (including any construction sites, factories or company outbuildings); 

  • Access to loading/unloading stations;

  • Organization around the vehicle (tarpaulins, securing, etc.).

A lot of responsibility! But safety protocol is governed by precise legal texts.

Driver and Logistics Dock Responsible are validating the security protocol
Security Protocol Validated by both parts

Which legal acts should be referred to for the safety protocol?

A decree and several orders govern the loading and unloading of heavy goods vehicles: 

Decree no. 92-158 sets out the principles of prevention and the obligations of the companies concerned, from the moment the operation is carried out by an external company;

A decree dated April 26, 1996 adds specific requirements for loading and unloading;

The latest decree, dated 01/01/99, covers the safe transport of hazardous goods.

Who is responsible for drawing up and communicating the protocol?

The protocol and safety regulations are the responsibility of the transport and reception company managers. The document is drawn up in their name. And it is, of course, the truck drivers who will have to take it into account.

It is essential that the transport company informs its drivers of this before the shipment begins. In particular, it must insist on the following information: 

  • The characteristics and specific layout of the truck used;

  • The nature and manner of transport of the goods;

  • any special precautions to be taken with the loaded product.

How to write a good security protocol?

What should it contain? The "simplified" security protocol should contain all the relevant information to identify the risks, regardless of their nature, arising from the loading and unloading operation in all its stages... For the host company, the loader, it should include:

  • Safety instructions;

  • The delivery or pickup location and the ways to access and park, along with a map and directions for better circulation on-site;

  • The materials, machinery, handling equipment to be used;

  • Emergency exits and evacuation procedures if necessary in case of danger;

  • The name of the on-site responsible person.

For the carrier, as we mentioned before, it is also necessary to include the vehicle specifications, the nature and packaging of the goods, as well as precautions to be taken regarding the transported goods (especially if we fall under ADR transportation regulations).

Different situations and adjustments 

  • If it is the first time you are establishing a contract with a company

Opt for a concise model of security protocol. If you are the shipper and your service provider is not known in advance, it means that the information transmission will likely happen on-site, just before the operation. Therefore, it is essential to use a compact model that focuses on the essentials while not forgetting the mandatory details.

  • You are accustomed to operating with a company.

You can choose a single security protocol as mentioned earlier in the article.

  • You are familiar with the carrier, but the transported goods are different.

Use a standard security protocol with well-specified loading/unloading procedures and include the circulation plan.

How long is a security protocol valid in transportation? 

If the protocol is "permanent," it remains valid as long as the loading and unloading conditions do not change significantly.

However, it is highly recommended to review protocols annually to ensure that preventive measures remain up to date.

All other security protocols are, by definition, specific to individual instances and only valid for the duration of one transport.

What penalties can be incurred if the security protocol is not followed?

Different cases resulting in fines: 

The management of transportation companies or shippers must have a copy of each security protocol, dated and signed, in case it is inspected by the relevant Social and Economic Committees and the labor inspectorate.

In case of non-compliance with any provision of a security protocol, the employer or the delegate may face fines of up to €10,000 according to the Labor Code.

The fine may increase up to €30,000 in case of repeat offenses.

This fine is multiplied by the number of employees affected by the infringement.

The transportation cost per km is already substantial for some, so it is crucial to pay close attention to these safety measures.

Accident at work contributions: 

If an accident occurs, the employer's "accident at work" contributions may be increased based on the severity.


In the case of a serious accident, prosecution may be initiated in court for voluntary manslaughter or endangering the lives of others.

If an accident happens due to a reason that is not specified in the security protocol, whether on the carrier's side or the shipper's side, the criminal liability of both companies can be considered depending on the context.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the security protocol: 

Do we need to provide a security protocol for transportation if the carrier does not go to a loading dock? 

The following principle should be applied: If the truck remains on the public road, the security protocol is not applicable. As soon as the heavy vehicle crosses the threshold of an external company, the security protocol must be completed and provided.

If you want to operate safely and centralize all your transportation information, Dashdoc's TMS or Dashdoc Flow could be the solution.

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