October 24, 2018

Ensure that the “load and count” at shipping point is acknowledged by shipper, carrier and buyer

The term load and count is the notation on a bill of lading indicating that the contents (number of cartons or sacks) inside the refrigerated trailer were loaded and counted by both the shipper and trucker.

If you are not allowing the carrier the opportunity to verify your count, your operation could be referred to as a shipper load and count. This term changes the narrative should there be a shortage at destination wherein a carrier can allege they were denied the opportunity to verify the load and count at shipping point. While we understand concern over security and food safety restrictions inside your facility to allow truckers the opportunity to observe loading, please establish a protocol to ensure that observing loading is available.  Provide a secure, restricted area adjacent to the rear doors of the truck where the loading of pallets can be readily seen at time of loading.  Many operations now employ videos to allow for verification at a later date to view the loading and securing of the load.  

For shortages at destination, if you are a shipper load and count, you provide a carrier an argument that it is not liable since they were not present when the load was counted and loaded. Shippers should understand that generally, your position is jeopardized when the vehicle is loaded without giving the driver an opportunity to verify count and the trailer is delivered with an intact seal.

It is becoming increasingly important for shippers, receivers and carriers to understand the legal consequences of bill of lading notations in the current litigious society. Parties to transportation arrangements would be well advised to reexamine their current bill of lading to make certain the correct verbiage is included.

The following links provide an example of a Shipper Pre Load and Loading Check List and a Bill of Lading that include carton/sack count.

If you have any questions, please contact any of the Western Growers Trade Practices team members, Bryan NickersonMatt McInerney, or Ken Gilliland.