Safety update

October 2005 Safety update for operators of road vehicles and floating barges

This safety update is issued to raise awareness of the potential risk to safety to operators of road vehicles and floating barges. It provides safe practice tips for how best to reduce the risks involved and to alert people to the risk to safety associated with road vehicles and floating barges.

Joint safety update from NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) and Maritime New Zealand

This safety update is for

  • Every truck driver and every employer of a truck driver whose vehicle might be carried or loaded on board a floating barge (or floating plant)
  • All operators of all floating barges
  • Harbourmasters and Maritime NZ Inspectors
  • New Zealand Police (both traffic and water).

All references to floating barges in this bulletin also relate to floating plant.


Maritime New Zealand is investigating a serious accident where two truck drivers died when their trucks rolled from the deck of a barge during loading operations.

This accident investigation is continuing and this safety update does not contain any information regarding the findings or the outcome of that investigation.

This safety update does contain important safety reminders about the obligations and the responsibilities of operators of floating barges and those operators of road vehicles who use floating barges.

Safe practice tips

All road vehicle operators and floating barge operators must:

  • not exceed the maximum loading weight as that could cause a road vehicle or barge to become unstable
  • ensure all vehicles will not move during loading or when the barge is moving
  • understand how vehicle weight, placement and centre of mass height may cause the barge to list and the road vehicle to become unstable or to slide
  • ensure loads on trucks are secure and will not move when the truck or barge is moving
  • understand that driving onto barges that are wet or slippery may cause trucks to slide causing further listing. This could reduce the stability of the truck and the barge. Operators must limit the risk of trucks sliding or skidding during loading
  • ensure that access on to and off the barge is safe
  • be aware of reduced stability when a heavy weight is lifted by a ship’s crane, or when a weight is incorrectly stowed on a ship
  • identify hazards and take steps to eliminate, isolate or minimise them
  • not rely solely on past experience – every situation is different.

Operators of diggers and cherry pickers that are used on barges, must understand the impact of their equipment on the stability of the barge or floating plant, and ensure the operation is conducted safely.

Operators of heli-logging operations that use barges for storage platforms must understand the stability criteria of the barge, to ensure these operations are carried out safety.

Further information for road vehicle operators

When vehicles are loaded onto a barge, there is a dramatic change in the barge’s stability and a possibility that the barge could roll during loading or while it is moving.

Obey NZTA. You must be aware of these important safety requirements and obligations and ensure your operation is carried out safely.

If you do not have information, or understand truck stability requirements and obligations, you must seek professional advice and set operational limits. Helpful information is available on the NZTA website, including:

Static roll thresholds

Preventing rollover

Safe loading of vehicles

Heavy vehicle stability guide

SRT Calculator

This information is also available in printed form from your nearest NZTA office. Phone 0800 699 000.

Further information for all floating barge operators

All owners and masters of all marine craft must comply with the requirements of the Maritime Transport Act 1994 and the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Marine craft operators must understand the stability criteria of their barge or floating plant, and the safe load and safe height that may be loaded on board. Operators must also understand the impact of the weight being loaded.

As every barge or floating plant is different, the stability criteria for each is different so there is no one ‘size-fits-all’.

If you do not have information or if you are unsure of stability requirements, you must seek professional advice and set operational limits.

For operators of powered barges

A naval architect or your ssurveyor can assist you in determining stability criteria and ensuring you are operating safely.

For dumb barges, and any other floating plant

Contact a registered naval architect to assist you.

Original source content - Safety Bulletin Issue 3, October 2005: Bulletin for operators of road vehicles and floating barges.

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If you have any questions about this safety bulletin, please contact our Wellington office.


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