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How to prevent tanker pull-aways at gangway loading platforms

Author : Emily Smith, Castell Safety International

16 May 2023

Industries such as oil & gas, food & beverage, chemical, and agriculture require goods to be transported by tankers. Commonly, these vehicles carry granular or liquid goods like fuel, flour, sugar, or plastics which require specialised procedures to unload and load their goods.

A tanker is being loading at a gangway loading platform – Image: Castell Safety
A tanker is being loading at a gangway loading platform – Image: Castell Safety

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When a tanker has reached its destination, it enters the unloading/loading area of a facility where hoses and or pumps are connected to the tank to unload or load the goods. It is common that tanker personnel will need to gain access to the top of the tank to allow for ventilation or attach hoses/pumps to begin the loading/unloading process.

Many facilities have permanent or semi-permanent elevated loading platforms or gangway systems that allow authorised tanker personnel to safely access the top of the tanks.

Why is preventing pull-aways important?

While gangway platforms offer personnel ease of access, they also pose some risk. Property damage can occur when a tanker believes that the loading or unloading process is complete and begins to pull away from the loading site as its hoses/pumps are still connected. As a result, the gangway and other equipment could become damaged.

Not only is equipment and property damaged when the tanker pulls away from the gangway, but personnel are also at risk of injury or even death. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) lists falls from height the third highest cause of fatal injury, compromising 20% of fatal accidents.

While most gangways or loading platforms use some type of fall protection such as guardrails, accidents still occur.

In addition, it is common for tanker trucks to carry flammable or corrosive liquids which makes the safe loading/unloading of this material imperative for both the personnel and facility.

(Image below) An interlock mounted on the gangway door used to force a sequential loading process – Image: Castell Safety

How to prevent gangway pull-aways:

Be proactive

The first step in preventing pull-aways at gangways systems is to be proactive. Don’t wait until a tanker has pulled away during the unloading/loading process and has caused equipment damage, product loss, or an injury before looking to prevent this type of occurrence.

Mitigate the risk

Mitigate the risk of a pull-away from occurring by installing the necessary equipment on the gangway system to prevent any accidents from occurring. Railings, communication systems, and interlocks are all examples of equipment that can greatly reduce risks.

Ensure clear communication

Communication is essential for a safe loading or unloading process to take place. Ensure tanker drivers and loading personnel can clearly and effectively communicate with each other throughout the entire process.

Emily Smith, Castell Safety International
Emily Smith, Castell Safety International

Force a Sequential Process

By forcing a step by step loading procedure, loading operations can be carried out safely without damage to personal or equipment. One way to force a sequential loading process to be followed is through an interlocking safety system. These systems can ensure that tankers cannot pull away from gangway loading structures while loading is taking place due to the forced sequential process these interlocks require.


While tankers are a critical part of many industries supply chains, they can pose some risks to facilities, equipment, and personnel during the loading/unloading process. Tankers can pull away from gangway loading platforms with hoses and pumps still attached potentially causing a dangerous situation. Pull-aways can be prevented by being proactive, mitigating the risk, ensuring clear communication between the tanker driver and loader, and forcing a sequential process to occur that eliminates the risk of a pull- away.

Facilities that frequently use gangway loading platforms to unload or load tankers should take the necessary steps to ensure operations are safe, product loss is avoided, and equipment is protected.

About the author:

Emily Smith is the Logistics Segment Marketing Manager for Sentric Safety group which is comprised of Kirk Key Interlock (US), Castell Safety International (UK), and Serv Trayvou Interverrouillage (FR). These global companies work within the energy, industry, and logistics sectors to protect people from hazardous environments with their range of trapped key interlock safety solutions. Emily has been with the business since 2016 and has grown to become knowledgeable about the issues many experience within the logistics sector.

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