Heavy vehicles / Safety / Load restraint guide

The safe loading of vehicles is an important way of preventing injury to people and damage to property

Load Restraint Guide

October 2018: Update to loading performance standards in the Load Restraint Guide 2018

  • The loading performance standards have now been included in the Mass Dimension and Loading Regulations.
  • While the legal intent has not changed, the wording on page 4 has been updated and the guide reissued (8 October 2018). Note: with the exception of page 4, the Load Restraint Guide remains unchanged.

What to do if you have already printed or purchased a copy of the Load Restraint Guide 2018

Loading heavy vehicles safely is vital to preventing injury to people and damage to property, as well as providing economic benefits if the load arrives at its destination intact.

The Load Restraint Guide 2018 provides transport drivers, operators, and other participants in the transport chain of responsibility with basic safety principles which should be followed for the safe carriage of loads on road vehicles.  The NTC has recently completed the review and update of the Load Restraint Guide in close consultation with stakeholders (more information on the review is available here).

Download a copy

You can download a copy of the Load Restraint Guide 2018.

A complementary guide to help light vehicle drivers safely restrain their load is also available. A light vehicle is any car, ute, van, truck or trailer that has a gross vehicle mass up to 4.5 tonnes. You can download a copy of the Load Restraint Guide 2018 for Light Vehicles.

Purchase a hard copy

Hard copies of the Load Restraint Guide 2018 are now available to purchase by clicking here

  • Copies are available in A4 and as a convenient glovebox A5 size.
  • Payments can be made online with either a VISA or MasterCard. For alternate payment options, please call Canprint Information Services on 1300 889 873 or e-mail sales@infoservices.com.au.
  • The Load Restraint Guide 2018 for Light Vehicles is not available to purchase as hard copy but is available to download via the NTC website.
  • For any queries about purchasing hard copies of the Load Restraint Guide 2018, please contact Canprint directly on the details above.

Frequently asked questions

What has changed in the new Load Restraint Guide?

The guidance material contained in the Load Restraint Guide 2018 has been updated to ensure it:

  • is easy to access and understand
  • meets the needs of the target audience
  • is accurate, up to date and reflects current load restraint practices and heavy vehicle technology
  • provides information based on the key steps involved in transporting loads to assist heavy vehicle drivers, operators and other parties to develop load restraint systems to suit their individual requirements
  • includes computer-generated diagrams and graphics to provide greater detail.
  • provides detailed worked examples demonstrating how to apply the load restraint principles provided in the Guide to the common freight commodities.

Have the loading performance standards changed?

The legal intent of the loading performance standards has not changed—the required level of restraint for a heavy vehicle load is the same.  However, the wording of the performance standards contained in the Load Restraint Guide 2018 has been amended to facilitate the transfer of the performance standards into the Heavy Vehicle National Law and the Australian Road Rules.

Is the Load Restraint Guide 2018 a legal document?

No – in all states and territories except Western Australia, the Load Restraint Guide 2018 is only a guidance document on how you many meet the performance standards for restraining vehicle loads. The legal requirements are the performance standards referenced within the Heavy Vehicle National Law, or in the Northern Territory, referenced within the Traffic Regulations. These are stated on page 186 of the 2004 Guide. We are in the process of updating the various legislative instruments to include the loading performance standards directly in the law.

The legal intent of the performance standards has not changed between editions. In practice, there is no material difference between the performance standards as presented in the 2004 and 2018 editions. Therefore the guidance materials contained in the both the 2004 edition and the 2018 Load Restraint Guide provide information on how you may meet the performance standards. However, this guidance material is not a legal requirement. You can restrain your load using other methods provided they meet the loading performance standards.

For Western Australian residents, the Heavy Vehicle National Law does not apply in that state. The loading requirements are contained in the Road Traffic (Vehicles) Regulations 2014, which specifically reference the previous 2004 Load Restraint Guide guidance material and performance standards.  

Therefore, WA residents should continue to use the 2004 edition as guidance for restraining loads. Currently the 2018 Load Restraint Guide cannot legally be used in WA. 

Where should I obtain advice on how to restrain my load?

If you’ve read the guidance material contained in the Load Restraint Guide 2018 and you’re still unsure how to meet your legislative loading requirements, you should consult with a suitably qualified person (e.g. a chartered professional mechanical engineer who is a full member of Engineers Australia or Registered Professional Engineers Queensland and has an understanding of heavy vehicle design and a detailed knowledge of load restraint requirements).

For more frequently asked questions and further information see the NHVR website:


Why do I need to restrain my load?

To be safe

Loads that aren’t restrained properly can injure or kill and can cause significant property damage. If the load falls off it endangers the lives of other road users through a direct collision or by causing other drivers to swerve to avoid it.

  • If the load moves forwards it can pierce the cabin and injure or kill the driver or passenger.
  • If the load makes the vehicle unstable it can cause an incident, especially when taking corners.

It’s good for business

Your corporate reputation and your financial position can suffer if you’re involved in a load restraint incident due to:

  • adverse publicity
  • loss of contracts due to damaged goods
  • insurance excess payments
  • increase in insurance premiums.

Unrestrained loads may move

Forces from changes in speed, direction or slope may cause a load to shift.

These forces result from normal driving conditions including braking, accelerating, cornering, road surfaces and air flow.

The weight of a load is not enough to hold it in place. A heavy load is just as likely to fall off as a light load because the heavier the load, the higher the forces it experiences.

To comply with the law

If you’re involved in packing, loading, moving or unloading a vehicle, you are responsible for complying with load restraint laws.

Find out more

For operational queries about load restraint for heavy vehicles in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, ACT, Tasmania and South Australia please contact the NHVR on 1300 MYNHVR (1300 696 487).

The NHVR have further information including a list of frequently asked questions about the Load Restraint Guide 2018 on their website.

For Western Australia please contact 138 HVO (138 486).

For the Northern Territory please contact 1300 654 628.

For further information, contact the WorkCover agency in your state.

If you require a copy of the 2004 second edition of the Load Restraint Guide it is available here.


Last Updated: 15/11/2018