Every year truck drivers are hurt by loose freight that falls from trailers that hasn’t been secured. According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), shifting cargo is one of the events that cause the 500,000 accidents involving a commercial motor carrier every year. A driver can be seriously hurt when opening the doors of the trailer if the load shifts. This is almost always due to improper securement when the trailer is loaded. Falling freight can cause neck and back injuries as well as broken bones.
There are a few steps you can take to ensure that you’re not injured by falling freight.
1. Watch the trailer being loaded if possible. Being present and vigilant will ensure the freight is loaded properly and is secure before you pull away from the door.
2. Take the time to secure the freight before departure. Use load bar locks, straps or bars to secure the contents of your trailer. There are 3 basic tools that are used to secure your freight.
A. Load bar locks.
A load bar lock has hooks that fit into logistics tracks which are installed on the inside walls of your trailer. Load bars will prevent the load from falling backwards.
B. Load straps
Load straps are especially good for irregular shaped freight. Load straps are ratcheted down once they are clipped into the logistics tracks in your trailer.
C. Load bars.
Load bars are pressure fitted into the walls of your trailer so there’s no need for the logistic tracks.
3. Smooth driving helps to ensure freight stays where it belongs. Avoid sudden jerking movements when traveling with the truck, especially when backing up. Any type of reverse movement can jar the freight and cause it to break loose if it’s not secured properly.
4. When you arrive at the receiver, open one trailer door at a time. Open the door slowly and look around inside before you swing the door wide open to make sure the freight isn’t leaning on the door. To the extent possible, stand clear of the door so that, in the case of falling freight, you’re not hit. Open one door at a time, check and then continue to open it slowly.
5. If, after loading the trailer, you’re not satisfied with the securement of the load, and you’re not able to secure it with your load lock, bars or straps, call your dispatcher. An insecure load is illegal under DOT regulations. An insecure load is not worth you getting hurt, being fined, or causing damage to the freight and/or rig.
6. Don’t leave the shipper until the load is secure. If you pick up a sealed trailer, take extra caution before you open the doors since you have no idea about the security of the freight.
7. Carry extra securement devices with you, in case they’re not provided by the shipper or you find you need extra ones to help secure the load.
Securing your load is important; making sure fleet truck drivers are not injured is even more important. Take these precautions to ensure your safety. To learn more about ways to improve fleet safety and manage risk, contact the experts at Encompass Risk Solutions.