There’s more to safely hauling cargo than having the latest technologically advanced truck. It’s the safety basics that you should never forget. Let’s look at five tips that will go a long way toward keeping you safe.
1. Keep Your Load Balanced
Take time to balance your cargo. Doing so may require extra effort, but it can mean your safety. An unbalanced truck hauling a heavy load is similar to a vehicle with a design flaw. One miscue and the truck could overturn.
2. Respect Weight and Load Limits
Don’t exceed the maximum cargo weight limit for your truck. It’s always tempting to try to eliminate the need for repeat trips or a second truck. But the weight limit is for your safety.
When a truck carries more cargo than recommended, it becomes unpredictable. It will no longer accelerate and decelerate as normally.
It also will be more challenging to drive your truck up and down inclines. Negotiating tight curves will be an issue, too.
Another way to stay safe is by being aware of the working load limit of the device you’re using to secure your cargo. Always remain well within its limit.
You may hear stories of haulers routinely going past the limit. It’s safer to ignore hearsay and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Don’t confuse the working load limit with the device’s breaking strength. The working load limit is only one-third that of the breaking strength.
So, just because the ratchet strap you’re using has an advertised breaking strength of 6,000 lbs, don’t mistakenly try to push your working load limit to that amount. The limit would be only 2,000 lbs.
It’s better to increase your ratchet size or add more straps than to gamble with your safety. Remember, in the event of an accident or a sudden stop, your load will still be traveling at a considerable speed.
3. Install a Tarp System
Use a sturdy tarp to cover your cargo. A tarp not only protects your load from the weather but it also keeps everything in place. If you haul material like sand or gravel, a tarp is not a luxury but a necessity.
Tarp systems offer both manual and electric operation. Consider your health and physical ability when choosing between the two.
You may find that you have no problem safely using a crank. On the other hand, you may decide that an electric system would be the better option.
4. Lift With Your Legs
If you have a medical condition, avoid lifting heavy objects that could cause injury. According to government statistics, there are more than a million on-the-job back injuries every year.
If you do have to lift, use the power of the large muscles in your legs to lift heavy loads. Begin by bending your knees as you grasp the load. Keep your back flat. Don’t let your back arch.
Now straighten your legs. If you do this correctly, you should feel very little strain on your back and arms.
If you tend to forget to maintain the correct posture when you lift, consider using a back brace. A back brace takes the strain off your back by keeping it in the proper position.
5. Wear Protective Clothing
Protect your hands with thick work gloves. Often loads are boxed using sharp objects, such as nails, screws, and heavy-duty staples. Gloves can mean the difference between a slight annoyance and having to find your first aid kit.
Always wear the proper safety boots when hauling cargo. Casual shoes won’t give you the same sort of grip as industrial footwear. A good grip is crucial when lifting heavy loads.
A hard hat may not be part of your everyday workwear, but some loading docks may require it. You want to follow the local safety protocol even if you’re only going to be on the dock for a few minutes. So, it’s wise to keep a hard hat within reach.
Hauling cargo can sometimes test your ingenuity and patience. But it should never put your health in jeopardy. Following the five tips mentioned above will help you stay safe.