What You Need To Know For Safe Cargo Securement

Hauling cargo means drivers often are fighting against the clock. In the rush to stay on schedule, fleet managers and owner-operators have to get a lot done in a relatively short period. However, there should always be time taken to confirm a load is properly secured to prevent injuries and damage.

Here are some of the most important tips drivers and fleet managers need to know about how to keep their loads secure on a flatbed trailer.

Safety First

Before doing anything else, the driver must remember to take proper safety precautions, these include stretching to prevent injury. Drivers also must be certain that when they throw straps or chains across a trailer, they will hurt no one on the other side. Whenever possible, drivers should secure loads from the ground, rather than climb on top of the trailer. This is to prevent slips and falls.

Straps and Chains

Drivers need to verify that the straps or chains they use to secure the load will be sufficient for its weight. A strap’s working load limit (WLL) should be printed clearly on it. On a chain, the WLL typically is found in the manufacturer’s mark every foot. The combined WLL of all the tie-downs used must be at least one-half of the load’s total weight. If the WLL does not reach that total — or if the WLL is not easily readable anywhere on the tie-downs — the vehicle will be taken out of service.

Proper Strap Placement

When securing loads on a flatbed trailer, two tie-downs must be used on the first 10 feet. One strap or chain is required every 10 feet after that. In cases where a second stack of cargo is not butted against the first stack, the second stack must have two straps for its first 10 feet. When the stacks are butted against each other, they can be treated as one.

Drivers should take care to note any pieces that extend beyond the footprint of the pallet. Items such as longer boards or drywall may not have enough downward pressure to hold them in place. In these cases, drivers should take extra steps to secure those pieces.

Tightening the Load

Because tie-downs are under tremendous strain, drivers must never use worn-out straps and always know their WLL. A strap or chain that snaps can do serious harm to operators and the cargo. Further, drivers need to inspect winches and brackets for signs of wear that could result in failure.

When tightening the tie-downs, drivers should position themselves to the side of the winch. This will prevent them from being injured should the winch give way. Drivers also should be careful never to release the winch handle before guaranteeing the mechanism is locked in place. Once the load is determined to be secure, drivers can cover the cargo with flatbed tarps.

Along with having the right flatbed trailer tarps, proper securement of a load is crucial for keeping cargo and drivers safe. By following these tips, drivers can ensure their loads will be secure.