All drivers should be properly trained to handle each kind of vehicle they drive; however, flatbed truck drivers have special safety concerns because of the open nature of the vehicle.
Because flatbed trucks tend to carry larger, more irregularly shaped commodities and because there is little protection keeping the load stable, you should be placing extra emphasis on making sure flatbed loads are tied down and secure.
Ensuring Safety in Transit
Here are some tips, both for new and seasoned drivers, to keep you and your load safe in transit on a flatbed truck.
- Work with your co-workers and help each other secure loads. This will not only ensure things get done quickly, but will also reduce the possibility for injury. Plus, if something does go wrong, there will be someone else present to help out.
- Use a forklift or overhead crane to get tarps on top of the load and use a ladder to climb onto the load. Carrying heavy tarps in perilous conditions is a recipe for disaster. Never climb up the tires or the side of the load for access.
- Tarp loads only in areas protected from the weather—in other words, not on the side of a highway. It will not only make the process more difficult, but also significantly more dangerous.
- Use boots with non-skid soles and proper tread, helmet, orange jacket, work gloves and protective glasses when tarping and securing a load.
- Always unroll a tarp forward so all hazards are visible as you work. Pulling the tarp backward to cover the load and walking backward on top of the load is not an acceptable practice. Also, be mindful of holes in the load and while walking on wet tarp.
- Use smart lifting techniques when handling tarp to prevent injuries. Keep a straight back and do not pull tarp with the arms above waist height.
- When securing the tarp, pull any bungee cords away from the face and turn hooks away from the tarp.
- Do not use any securement materials that are damaged or worn in any way.
Understand and follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations for securing specific types of commodities. There are detailed requirements outside the normal securement guidelines for the following items:
- Dressed lumber
- Metal coils
- Paper rolls
- Concrete pipe
- Intermodal containers, automobiles
- Light trucks/vans
- Heavy vehicles, equipment, machinery
- Flattened/crushed vehicles
- Roll-on/roll-off containers
- Large boulders
Incidentally, these are all commodities commonly transported via flatbed truck.
Practicing sound safety tie-down procedures ensures safety in transit. Ensuring safety on the job takes teamwork, so we’re counting on you to not take chances and put safety first.