From a ute to an armoured car–the safe transport of records

There comes a time when our records need to go on a journey. Now, you don’t need an armoured vehicle to safely transport records from one location to another, but a regular ute probably doesn’t cut it either.

Transporting records can put them at greater risk of being lost or damaged, so how you transport records is worth thinking about.

As a public authority, you are still responsible for the security of records until they are either (lawfully) destroyed or safe in their new location, So, let’s go through the things you need to think about.

Transporting records

There are many reasons that records may need to be moved but how they get there is important. We have advice on the website about the transport of records to QSA (there are specific requirements when it comes to handling permanent archival value records), but a lot of these things actually apply to the transportation of all records.

Firstly, it is recommended that you draft a transportation procedure for your records. There are a few factors to consider when drafting a transportation procedure including:

  • the exact location of record pick-up points
  • the route the transportation vehicle will take when in possession of the records
  • the types of records that will be transported on each occasion and
  • the exact drop off location for the records
  • any requirements relating to the security and confidentiality of records – this may change depending on the records being transported.

You may also want to consider including emergency response procedures – the just in case processes to be followed if records are lost in transportation, or if the vehicle is in an accident and the public records are strewn across a highway or blowing in the wind… (now you’ve  got that song in your head, you’re welcome). Think about what immediate response steps would you need to undertake to secure the public records. Who would need to be contacted if this event was to occur?

Now all of the above applies to both temporary and permanent records, but there are some additional factors to consider when transporting permanent records to QSA.

Your transportation contractor should be made aware of the requirements to safely transport permanent archival value records. Specifically, we recommend vehicles are covered (so the open tray ute is out), locked, and attended at all times. We also recommend transportation vehicles are not used for transporting other materials, such as chemicals, as this can damage the records.

Other important issues to consider when handling or transporting permanent records include not eating, drinking or smoking near the records as this may damage them, or attract pests which can cause serious damage to records in storage.

These measures may not be required in all instances, but it is good practise to review your transportation contract at regular intervals and ensure you are getting the right service for your needs. Check out our advice on the website to find out more.

Packing them up

Another thing to think about is how the records are prepared for transport. Are they ok loose or should they be in boxes or a bag or something else? I guess that will depend on what they are, where they’re going and why…

Records going to another location should be labelled so the transportation contractors know where it’s supposed to go, and to whom, but also so the people receiving it know what it is etc. Oh, and so you can track it too… that could help.

Labelling probably isn’t so necessary for records being destroyed, but the packing up bit is still a good idea.

From the door to the truck to the door

Ok so the records are packed and ready to go, and now you’re just waiting for the transportation people to arrive and take them away. What to do with them in the meantime?

Firstly, records should never be left in unsecured areas unattended. If you can keep them in a secure area (like a secure dock or loading bay) while you wait, that’s a better option. If not, make sure someone stays with them until they can be picked up.

Another option you could consider, particularly if the loading dock is shared with other agencies, is whether you can have exclusive access to the loading dock while the records are there and being picked up – this reduces the risk of unauthorised access, damage and loss of records.

The other thing to think about is how the records are handled while they are being loaded and unloaded – some may need special or careful handling, so make sure the transport people know of any special handling requirements. This is particularly important for permanent value records.

On the move…

So, what is the best way to move records? Sometimes you don’t have a huge volume of records to transport.

Small amounts of records may be transported using registered mail or couriers (tracking packages is usually included).

Whatever you choose, think about whether the records will be protected, secure (appropriate for the records of course), if you can track the records as they travel, and if you can get a delivery receipt of some kind.

More information

Basically, you need to make sure records are secure and safe from damage, loss and unauthorised access at all times, even while on the move, and regardless of whether they are temporary or permanent or about to be destroyed.

You can find out more information about transporting records to QSA on our website. Also have a look at this advice on Records in Transit: Keeping Them Safe from NSW State Archives & Records.

Remember, you can contact us via email, telephone (3037 6630), and Twitter.

 

Featured image: ANCCOR Delivery truck on route to Brisbane from Sydney Street, Mackay, c 1945, Digital image ID 23885

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