Duties of a truck drivers is driving trucks. During this activity, a driver transports goods both in the country and abroad. One might think that this is the only obligation of a driver but in fact it is not. Their obligations also include preparation for transport as well as preparation and submission of post-carriage documentation and reporting of performed activities. Moreover, drivers are responsible for loading and unloading of goods. How is the issue regulated by law? Which challenges does the latter pose for drivers?

Driver during loading

During loading, a driver is obliged to accept cargo in a place and time indicated by a loader. He or she must be present at loading. If it is not possible, the CMR (International Waybill) should be annotated appropriately. Moreover, a driver should make themselves familiar with a type and properties of cargo and supervise the loading to ensure safe carriage and prevent the goods from moving during transport.

Driver during unloading

The basic obligation of a driver is to keep an appointment with a consignee in a specified place and time. Place and date are always provided on a waybill. A driver must be present during all unloading activities. If possible, they should make themselves familiar with a number of loading units that were handed over. It is very important for a driver to obtain a confirmation of receipt.

How does it work in practice?

Drivers work according to deadlines. Sometimes, they appear in the place of loading or unloading late due to heavy traffic or traffic jams. Then, they face a choice: they can wait for their turn or load/unload the goods on their own. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Most drivers decide to complete the task on their own and observe the time limit. In such situations a driver, as a person doing the unloading, is fully accountable for the goods. If the activities require the use of forklifts, a driver must hold a necessary license. If the activities associated with unloading and loading of goods are included in a contract concluded between a driver and their employer, the activities in question constitute his or her duties. If not – a driver should not perform the above tasks because in the case of any accident he or she retains all liability.

If an employer forces their employees to perform loading and unloading without providing necessary training and remuneration, they violate the law.

What does the law say?

Certain companies include unaided loading and unloading in the scope of drivers’ duties, which is fully legal. However, such additional duties should be properly remunerated.

The Polish and European law does not forbid a driver to perform loading/unloading. Pursuant to Directive 2002/15/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council the working time of a driver includes the time devoted to all road transport activities. Such activities comprise: driving, loading and unloading, cleaning and technical maintenance and every other activity intended to ensure the safety of the vehicle and its cargo.

Article 6 of the Act of 16 April 2004 on Working Time of Drivers states that loading and unloading are included in the working time of a driver. They must be registered as “other works” of a driver. Upon loading and unloading a driver must observe OHS regulations concerning maximum permissible weights of shifted objects, loads and materials. The permissible weight of a load shifted on a hard flat surface using a hand pallet truck cannot exceed 450 kg per one employee together with the weight of the pallet truck (chapter  6 § 21.1 Regulation on health and safety related to manual transport works). In the case a driver must use an engine-powered or an electric truck, he or she should hold a necessary license.

To avoid unpleasant disappointments and surprises, when starting to work as a driver you should make yourself familiar with your future obligations. Besides the very transport of goods, a driver might be responsible for their loading and unloading but these activities should be properly remunerated.