Automotive

How does a heavy haulage company prepare for extreme weather conditions?

heavy haulage vehicles

Australians suffer enormous social and economic costs from extreme weather events. Several people have lost their personal assets, shipped packages, and even lives as a result of bushfires, heatwaves, floods, and cyclones over the past four years. 

Australia experienced three consecutive years of above-average rainfall till the end of 2022. According to the Bureau of Meteorology’s latest climate model, this El Nio cycle will be one of the hottest and driest on record. An El Nio is marked by stalled or reversed trade winds, thus creating a climate that is susceptible to severe heatwaves, droughts, and fires.

This can jeopardise your heavy haulage company (as well as your fleet, premises, and machinery). As a logistics and transport operator, understanding your risks and mitigating them is crucial.

Impact of different kinds of weather on heavy haulage company:

Storms:

Due to high winds, heavy rainfall, and lightning, it can be difficult for heavy haulage vehicles to operate safely during severe thunderstorms. Vehicles and cargo can be damaged by high winds, and power lines and trees can be knocked over as well, causing roads to become blocked. Furthermore, trade flows can be disrupted by the closure of roads and ports and the cancellation of flights and voyages. Cyclone Seroja, for example, tore through Western Australia in April 2021; main roads, including the Great Eastern Highway, were closed, disrupting heavy haulage transport flow. 

Bushfires:

There can be widespread damage done to infrastructure by bushfires, causing road closures and blocking heavy haulage vehicles from navigating. Such events’ ramifications include extensive power outages, restricted access to critical shipping access points, and a delay in the movement of goods across the land. An example of this is the Black Summer bushfires in Australia in 2019-20. A large amount of cargo was kept in warehouses during these fires due to groundings and road closures. The delays in shipping ranged from one to two weeks, leading to higher shipping costs.

Typhoons: 

Typhoons are large-scale tropical cyclones that can bring strong winds and heavy rainfall. This can disrupt entire international supply chains, with an extremely negative impact on shipping. In worst-case scenarios, they can destroy entire heavy haul trucks.

Tsunamis:
Coastal infrastructure can be seriously damaged by tsunamis, making heavy haulage vehicles difficult to navigate. It is also possible for tsunamis to damage cargo, especially if it is being transported by ship.

Snow and Ice:
Heavy snowfall and ice on the roads can also lead to significant traffic jams. Heavy haulage drivers can struggle to navigate slippery roads due to snow and ice. As a result, low visibility forces truck drivers to alter their routes, putting them at risk. Also, it can lead to changes in load weight and brake malfunctions. 

How to prepare for extreme weather conditions as a heavy haulage company? 

Protecting heavy haulage trucks and cargo on the go. 

Planning routes: 

When hauling heavy loads, it is important to steer clear of areas prone to severe weather and to avoid storms as much as possible. If forecasts indicate flooding on your route, you should probably change it and find a safer alternative.  

Securing loads:

It is extremely crucial to properly secure loads to prevent damage or loss to cargo when extreme weather conditions are present. Over time, torrential rain will find a way to get in. Notably, tarps are weatherproof, not waterproof. Remember to double-tarp everything or ensure your tarps have no holes. 

Maintaining vehicles:

Regular maintenance and service ensure that heavy haul cargo can cope with extreme weather conditions. Do ensure that your tires and chains are appropriate for the weather and road conditions. For maximum safety, be sure that the weight load is in compliance with the legal limit and evenly distributed throughout the vehicle.

Weather monitoring: 

By keeping track of weather forecasts and alerts, you can find it easier to prepare for and respond to extreme weather conditions.

Slow down:

Also, make sure you drive slowly in heavy rain, strong winds, and other inclement weather to keep yourself safe from accidents. The driver should feel confident in stopping, diverting, or delaying the trip if the rain pours down. You’re better off being stranded in a town or rest area than on the side of the road or in a remote area (and at risk). 

First-aid:

Safety equipment, such as flares and first-aid kits, should be kept on hand in an emergency.

Protecting stationary heavy haulage trucks and cargo.

  1. Set up an emergency plan:
    Be prepared for extreme weather events by having an emergency plan in place, which includes how trucks can be secured and how to evacuate if necessary. 
  2. Choose a safe location for parking:
    In extreme weather conditions, heavy haulage trucks can be better protected by parking in a warehouse or parking garage. To avoid potential hazards, check the parking area for fallen trees, loose debris, or standing water.
  3. Covering trucks:
    By using tarps or covers, Trucks and their cargo can be protected from rain, snow, and other precipitation. High winds can also damage trucks if chains or other restraints are not used to secure them to the ground.
  4. Have backup power:
    Make sure the truck is powered by a backup source, such as a generator, in case the power goes out during harsh weather.

Managing heavy haulage liability during extreme weather

  1. Assess risks regularly:
    Risk assessments can help identify potential hazards and areas of vulnerability associated with heavy haulage operations.
  2. Purchase appropriate insurance:
    The insurance coverage that heavy haulage companies purchase should be tailored to their specific needs and provide protection against potential losses related to extreme weather conditions. It is also essential for heavy haul companies to get carrier policies to cover costs associated with spills or incidents, along with damage to cargoes for which the transport operator may be liable.
  3. Plan an emergency response strategy:
    Preparedness for extreme weather events can help minimise their impact, as well as ensure that emergency response is quick and efficient.
  4. Document everything:
    All heavy haulage operations should be documented in detail, including routes taken, weather conditions, and incidents. You may need a legal advisor or attorney to help you navigate potential heavy haulage liability issues.
  5. Training employees:
    Make sure employees know how to handle extreme weather conditions and emergencies safely when operating heavy haulage vehicles. As part of this training, drivers are taught defensive driving techniques, how to secure loads, and how to respond to emergencies.
  6. Communicate with customers:
    Provide regular updates on the status of shipments during extreme weather and inform customers of potential delays.
  7. Good relationship with local authorities:
    For heavy haulage transport companies, having good relationships with local authorities, such as police and road maintenance crews, is also important. They can thus navigate road closures and detours resulting from extreme weather conditions more effectively and efficiently.
  8. Review and improve:
    Be sure to review and improve your company’s procedures and practices regularly to minimise accidents or losses.

Protect your transport and logistics workers in extreme weather conditions

  1. Provide proper training:
    Provide transportation and logistics workers with training in how to safely operate equipment and vehicles during extreme weather conditions, including reduced visibility and slippery roads.
  2. Get the right equipment:
    Rain gear, warm clothing, safety glasses, and other clothing and equipment to protect workers from extreme weather conditions are all necessary to keep them safe and comfortable.
  3. Establish safety procedures:
    Implement safety procedures such as regular safety meetings and safety inspections to make sure vehicles and equipment are in good working condition and being used safely.
  4. Plan and prepare for extreme weather conditions:
    Communicate the emergency plan to all workers concerning how to handle extreme weather conditions, such as heat waves, storms, and flooding.
  5. Monitor weather conditions:
    As part of their heavy hauling service, heavy hauling companies employ meteorologists who track weather patterns and inform them of predicted weather conditions. They can thus plan ahead and adjust their delivery processes accordingly to ensure safety and efficiency. Hence, you want to make sure workers are kept informed about weather conditions and notified of any potential hazards.
  6. Provide support and resources:
    Counseling, employee assistance programs, and training on stress management techniques can help workers deal with the physical and emotional stress of working in extreme weather conditions. To prevent working during extreme weather, flexible schedules will allow workers to adjust their working hours if necessary at the same time; workers should also take frequent breaks and rest periods to avoid fatigue and ensure their safety.

  7. Pack for foreseeable risk
    Similarly, drivers should prepare if a run might be delayed; if this is foreseeable, then they should have some basic supplies on hand. Besides toiletries, they also include a change of clothes, a phone charger, a book or two, and enough food for a day.

In conclusion

Lastly, hauling companies should train and educate their drivers about extreme weather conditions so they can handle them. Heavy haulage companies in Australia need to be prepared for such conditions, as they play a vital role in the transportation industry. Maintaining vehicles regularly, developing emergency response plans, collaborating with local authorities and meteorologists, securing loads, and training drivers are all part of this process. ODLS, Australia’s trusted and experienced heavy haulage company, always stays one step ahead to minimise disastrous risks. ODLS takes all the above-mentioned steps to ensure that its loads are delivered safely and efficiently, even in challenging weather conditions. Get in touch with ODLS if you wish to utilise any of their services, from heavy haulage, jacking and skating, transformers, mobile cranes, and more. 

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