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The Top Safety Tips For Flatbed Truck Drivers

Monday, March 16th, 2020
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Driving a semi-truck has its occupational hazards, that’s a given. But like most occupational hazards, there are safety guidelines put in place by industry officials that can help reduce injuries–if these guidelines are followed, that is. This is especially true for flatbed truck drivers. 

Here’s a few of the most important safety tips for all drivers to keep in mind. While you may groan and grumble while reading over these seemingly obvious tips, remember that it’s better to remember the obvious rules and steer clear of the hospital than it is to be laid up with an injury and out of work. 

Loading And Unloading 

Making sure you properly load and unload a flatbed trailer is key. Why? As a truck driver, you’ll spend most of your time doing this! Using proper methods when doing this ensures efficiency and physical safety. You’re quite likely doing these tips as second nature by now, but just make sure…..

  • Are you loading or unloading on a flat surface? Avoid doing this task anywhere there is a grade. When there’s a slant, there’s shifting cargo. And some of this cargo, you definitely don’t want to shift! If you must load or unload on a grade, be sure to take into account the laws of physics and the weight of your cargo.
  • Survey your surroundings to make sure there’s nothing nearby that could be hazardous to your health. This could be loose gravel, open machinery, precariously angled large boulders, anything! Be sure to take into account how much room you’ll need for unloading, and make sure that area is nice and clear of any dangerous objects. 
  • Always check and make sure there’s nothing you can trip over before you start unloading or loading. The obvious reason being, you’re likely to have your hands full and no real clear view of what’s on the ground. You’re better off ensuring you have a clear footpath before you start sweating.

Securing Loads and Cargo

As a truck driver, the cargo you’re hauling is what your job is all about. The ultimate goal is to deliver the cargo to whoever is intended to have it. Your load is quite literally the golden ticket to your paycheck. That being said, always ensure it is properly secured. A properly secured load means you have ensured the safety of other drivers, yourself, and the load itself. 

  • Before you hit the road, thoroughly inspect your cargo all the devices you’ve used to secure it. One last nitpicking once-over could mean you catch a worn-out bungee cord or frayed cord (in other words: a disaster waiting to happen). Go over every inch of the cargo, pull the fasteners, the whole nine yards. 
  • Monitor your load periodically while driving to ensure there is no flying debris. A quick check in the rearview mirror every ten minutes is easy enough to get into the habit of doing.
  • For bonus safety points, put a heavy tarp with tie down straps over your load to secure it. If you happen to use bungee cords, remember to hook them facing away from the tarp. That way, nothing will snag on the hook and create a nasty domino effect of cargo destruction. 
  • Every time you stop to refuel or at a rest stop, give your cargo another once-over. As tedious as it can be, you never know when you’ll catch a compromised fastener and nip that trouble in the bud. 

Always Practice Roadside Safety

There’s a lot of things that could go wrong when you’re pulled over on the roadside. No matter what the reason is for pulling over on the shoulder or how “obvious” your semi-truck may seem to other drivers, take very single precaution for roadside safety

All it takes is one distracted or tired driver and you’ve got yourself a situation. Here’s what you should do as soon as you pull over. 

  • If your cargo has managed to come unsecured (or is threatening to!), avoid using the roadside as a place to fix the problem. If at all possible, hold off until you reach the nearest rest stop or safe area off the highway. This eliminates the possibility of being stuck by another driver. 
  • Place your reflective hazard triangles around your rig as soon as you can! These little reflective devices will signal other drivers to give you space.
  • Whip out that reflective vest! It may not be fashionable, but it’s one of the best ways to make yourself clearly visible (and in turn, SAFE). This is especially true at nighttime, when the darkness can hide you quite well from anyone travelling at a high speed.  

Trips, Slips, and Tumbles

Always watch your step when working around your flatbed! Even if you’re young, fast, and can’t possibly be beat–you can definitely trip over your own feet. There’s a lot of footwork when it comes to maneuvering around a flatbed and its cargo. In fact, this is exactly how you are most likely to be injured unless you take the safety protocols to heart!

  • Pick up some non-slip shoes. There are lots of slick metal surfaces on a flatbed, and you’ll want something that can get a real grip. You’ll put less energy in making sure you stay upright and more focus on getting the job done. 
  • Always take one step at a time when going up and down steps. Slow and steady runs the race, so there’s no issue in making sure you take each step there is on and off the truck. 
  • Don’t jump! Never ever jump from a flatbed trailer! That’s the fastest way to end up in the hospital and out of commission due to a sprain or broken bone! Be sure to dismount using a ladder, like our Deckmate ladder. It’s made exactly for that reason: a safe disembark

The Deckmate Ladder from Gateway Supply in Pampa, Texas

Gateway Supply is the U.S. distributor of Deckmate Ladder, which is made in the U.S.A. This ladder is used by military branches, the mining industry, and truckers across the country. Contact us at (806) 440-1126 or Send Us an Email to learn more about our Products.