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5 Safety Tips For Loading And Unloading Flatbed Trailers

Friday, August 3rd, 2018
securing loads on a flatbed trailer safely with a flatbed safety ladder

Loading and unloading flatbed trailers must be done correctly to avoid dangerous accidents. If you overload a trailer, you could lose control of it as you are transporting the load. If you forget to secure a ramp, this could cause serious driving hazards. Follow these tips to ensure you are loading and unloading your flatbed trailer safely.

Preparing a trailer for loading

Before you begin loading your cargo, make sure the flatbed trailer bed is free from corrosion or damage. Check the hold down openings and ensure they are sturdy and do not have any kinks or cracks. These “D” rings. or hold-downs, should not have any bends and must be tight against the deck. If you see any forms of damage, do not load the cargo until repairs have been made.

After you’ve checked the trailer bed for damages and have ensured “D” rings are secure, make sure the deck is level. To check for a level deck, couple the flatbed trailer to the tow vehicle and visually confirm that it is level. At this point, you can also check to make sure ramps are secured to the trailer, and when lowered, that they rest firmly on the ground.

Tips for loading your flatbed trailer

Distributing the weight on your cargo is a high priority when loading your flatbed trailer. To ensure you’ve loaded within the accepted rating, add the distribution of the weight along with the combined weight of the cargo and the trailer. This amount is the GVW, or gross vehicle weight. The tow vehicle hitch will handle the rest of the weight. To avoid creating a sway at towing speeds, you must make sure the trailer tongue and tow vehicle hitch are supporting the right amount of loaded trailer weight.

The distribution of your load cannot be more than its rating. You have to consider the axles, wheels, and tires into this rating. If you are pulling a triple axle flatbed trailer or tandem, you have to consider the front-to-rear load distribution as well, so you do not overload any of the axles.

To make sure your trailer travels appropriately, keep the center of gravity as low as possible. To ensure this, keep the heavy items on the floor and above the axles. Loading upward from the bottom, maintain an even side-to-side distribution of the weight making sure to keep proper weight on the tongue. Keep in mind the GVW and never go over that total weight rating.

Place about sixty percent of your cargo on the front half of the flatbed and secure it with appropriate tensioning devices, chains, or straps. Flatbed trailers are often bumpy when traveling, so the load must be secured to prevent shifting while transporting. If cargo begins to move, you could lose control of your truck.

Checking that all ramps are secure

Some flatbed trailers are equipped with two or three fold down ramps. They can be stored against the trailer deck while traveling. If yours do not fold over, straps and safety lock pins must be installed to keep them safely in place. When using the ramps for loading, remove the pins and straps to lower the ramp to ground level. When handling these units, make sure you practice safe lifting procedures to prevent injuries.

Tips for unloading your flatbed trailer

Unloading procedures will vary from load to load, depending on what you are transporting. It might require machinery to remove, or it may have to be done by hand. If you have to access the bed of your trailer to handle the cargo to adjust position, secure it, or to handle unloading, use a portable safety ladder.

Using a flatbed trailer ladder

Using one of these safety devices can benefit you in many ways. It will ensure that you do not fall while climbing up and down your trailer. The ladder eliminates the need to use the tires or other areas of the truck to get to the load you are carrying. Using a ladder can also help you load and unload faster, because it provides quick access to your flatbed trailer. The best trailer safety ladders are sturdy, have good traction on the steps, and have support handles. All of these features enhance safety.

Gateway Supply in Pampa, Texas is the United States distributor of the Deckmate Ladder. This ladder weighs only twenty pounds and conveniently hooks onto the rub rails of your trailer for easy access. Call us at 806.665.7990 today to order your ladder, or Contact Us by email to learn more.