Tips for securing loads to your pickup, flatbed, or trailer

Unsecured loads in a pickup, flatbed truck, or trailer can be just as dangerous as an unsecured load on a 53-foot semi-trailer heading down the interstate. When unsecured loads fall from trailers, they can cause cars to swerve, lose control and, ultimately, crash. They also damage vehicles, and can injure or kill others on the roadway. Follow these tips to ensure the safety of yourself and others:

What a truck owner or employee should do

  • Make sure the parking brake is on and wheels are chocked during loading and unloading.
  • Cover any load that has the potential to throw wind-driven debris out of the truck — like gravel, firewood, mulch, or refuse.
  • Balance all loads so that weight is equal in all parts of the truck or trailer.
  • Do not make sudden swerves, stops, or acceleration.
  • Watch mirrors frequently, being aware of passing vehicles, especially large trucks that may create wind pressure and cause a trailer to swerve.
  • Make sure the safety chains are always secured at the ball hitch when trailer towing.
  • Never assume that someone else tied down or secured the load. This is the responsibility of the driver.
  • Never speed.

What an employer should do
  • Maintain a written cargo securement policy that explains how to secure equipment, supplies, and materials when they are transported. Make sure all employees are given a copy of the policy that they signed after reading.
  • Provide illustrations or photos for key equipment. List safe driving practices for transporting a load. Provide hands-on training for everyone hauling a load. 
  • Supply proper equipment for the job, including cargo nets, tarps, bungee cords, straps, chains, and slings with ratchets.
  • Understand that if the combined weight of a truck, trailer, supplies, and equipment exceeds 10,000 pounds, the driver is required to obtain the proper medical certificate, stop at roadside inspection stations, and be compliant with cargo securement regulations for commercial truckers.

Your trucks and trailers are an expensive investment, but for businesses they also are like billboards. How they are used on public roadways can advertise your business reputation and professionalism. Misused, they can advertise the actions of a careless employee, compromising years of hard work made to build a solid business reputation. Protect your investment; train and equip your employees to transport loads and equipment safely. 

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