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Securing Cargo

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3.3.1 – Blocking and Bracing

Blocking is used in the front, back, and/or sides of a piece of cargo to keep it from sliding. Blocking is shaped to fit snugly against cargo. It is secured to the cargo deck to prevent cargo movement. Bracing is also used to prevent movement of cargo. Bracing goes from the upper part of the cargo to the floor and/or walls of the cargo compartment.

3.3.2 – Cargo Tiedown

On flatbed trailers or trailers without sides, cargo must be secured to keep it from shifting or falling off. In closed vans, tiedowns can also be important to prevent cargo shifting that may affect the handling of the vehicle. Tiedowns must be of the proper type and proper strength. Federal regulations require the aggregate working load limit of any securement system used to secure an article or group of articles against movement must be at least one-half times the weight of the article or group of articles. Proper tiedown equipment must be used, including ropes, straps, chains, and tensioning devices (winches, ratchets, clinching components). Tiedowns must be attached to the vehicle correctly (hooks, bolts, rails, rings).

Cargo should have at least one tiedown for each ten feet of cargo. Make sure you have enough tiedowns to meet this need. No matter how small the cargo, it should have at least two tiedowns.

There are special requirements for securing various heavy pieces of metal. Find out what they are if you are to carry such loads.

3.3.3 – Header Boards

Front-end header boards (“headache racks”) protect you from your cargo in case of a crash or emergency stop. Make sure the front-end structure is in good condition. The front-end structure should block the forward movement of any cargo you carry.

3.3.4 – Covering Cargo

There are two basic reasons for covering cargo:

  • To protect people from spilled cargo.
  • To protect the cargo from weather.

Spill protection is a safety requirement in many states. Be familiar with the laws in the states you drive in.

You should look at your cargo covers in the mirrors from time to time while driving. A flapping cover can tear loose, uncovering the cargo, and possibly block your view or someone else’s.

3.3.5 – Sealed and Containerized Loads

Containerized loads generally are used when freight is carried part way by rail or ship. Delivery by truck occurs at the beginning and/or end of the journey. Some containers have their own tiedown devices or locks that attach directly to a special frame. Others have to be loaded onto flat bed trailers. They must be properly secured just like any other cargo.

You cannot inspect sealed loads, but you should check that you don’t exceed gross weight and axle weight limits.