I’m sure that most people will be familiar with using a set of roof bars or a roof rack, however, not many people realise that carrying equipment or materials on the roof of any vehicle can expose the van operator, other road users and pedestrians to a whole host of health & safety issues that can be minimised by following a few basic principles.

Don’t use a roof rack! – This may sound a little strange coming from a roof rack manufacture with 30 years experience in the business, however, in our experience we have found that is it better to try and carry all your equipment in the back of your van, rather than on the roof. It is certainly safer (if loads are properly secured and a factory fitted bulkhead is present) as well as reducing loading and unloading risks and also makes the van more fuel efficient. There is a host of products available to help organise and secure the load area of your van, see here for more information.

Do use a roof rack! – That’s more like it! – Roof racks can be used to actually improve the efficiency of your business. Just think about the size of van you would need to carry a 3m set of ladders around or the occasional 8’x4’ sheet of material in the back when they would quite easily fit on a set of roof bars on top or a small car derived van, such as a Citroen Berlingo or Ford Transit Connect. This means less environmental impact due to less materials being used to build vans as well as better fuel economy from a smaller van and better overall value for money when purchasing.

Secure it! – If you have to carry items on the roof of your van, make sure they are safely and appropriately secured. Items that should not be used to secure loads include: (these are genuinely used by some people!) Gaffer tape or electrical tape, cable ties, electrical wire, earth sheathing, bungee cords, plastic waste pipes or just gravity! Other than the risks of killing unsuspecting pedestrians, it is also an offence to drive round with an ‘unsecured load’ and I’m afraid there is no excuse nowadays for having an unsecured load on the roof of your van due to the range of products that have been developed over the years to help make things safer. Ladders should always be secured to roof bars and roof racks using a good quality set of ‘Ladder Clamps’ that are also lockable to prevent your ladders disappearing over night. Long items such as copper pipe, conduit or beading should always be carried in a purpose made tube or pipe carrier and not just strapped to the roof bars or put inside a length of soil pipe. Other items such as sheet material or lengths of timber should be secured using load rated ratchet straps or similar. Not only will these products be safer, they will also be quicker to use and save you time and money. As a last resort and if you paid attention as a boy scout, a length of good quality rope may be suitable, but in this day and age, is it really worth risking good money for old rope?