Flatbed trailers are a great way to transport cargo, but it is also dangerous when you do not have control. These trucks cannot only cause a danger to you, but also to others on the roadway. With the following tips, you will lessen the dangers by knowing how to safely load and unload a flatbed trailer.
Prepare the Load
First let’s go over what you should load on a flatbed trailer. According to the experts at Hale Trailer, “Flatbeds are a great trailer option for carrying a variety of freight, especially larger quantities of heavier items. They are not well-suited for taller cargo and have limited loading and unloading capabilities.” With that being said, you cannot expect a load to be safe if you have not prepared the trailer for what you are carrying. You should routinely check your trailer to make sure there is no damage and the tie-downs are free from corrosion. The rings should be tight against the bed, and you should be able to raise and lower the gate without trouble. Finally, make sure your trailer bed is level and the ramp rests on the ground securely. If you notice any damage or possible safety issues on your trailer, do not trust your load on it until you are fixed.
Safely Loading the Trailer
Once you have ensured your trailer is safe for transport, it is time to load the trailer. The most important part of loading a trailer is making sure your load weight is distributed evenly. Your trailer will have a rating that will let you know how much weight your trailer can safely transport, but make sure you take into account the actual weight of the trailer as well. If you exceed the weight for the tow vehicle, you will encounter swaying while you drive.
Keep the heaviest items on the bottom and as close to the wheel axles as possible. In addition, divide the weight between both sides of the trailer so when you turn corners, it will not tip. You will want to visually divide your trailer into thirds and have two-thirds of the cargo in the front part of the trailer. When you have the trailer loaded, secure it with straps or chains. Ratchet the straps down as tightly as possible so your load will not shift during transport. If it begins to loosen, pull to the side of the road, and safely tighten it back down.
Secure the Ramps
Before you start to transport, it is vital to make sure your ramps are secured against the deck. Know how your trailer ramps work and how to secure them before you load your trailer. In some cases, the trailers have fold-over ramps; but in others, you need to use lock pins and straps to keep the ramps in place. Ramps are not light, so when you raise and lower the ramps, use safe lifting procedures to prevent injury. Do not be ashamed to have more than one person to load and unload to make sure there are no injuries, as well as always make sure you are wearing non-slip footwear.
Unloading the Trailer
Unloading your trailer should be done the opposite of loading. The biggest safety feature to follow when it comes to unloading is knowing where you are and making sure you give enough room to access the bed, especially if you are using a forklift or other unloading machinery. If necessary, use a safety ladder to access cargo that needs adjusting while you are unloading. Never unload a trailer on a slope, or your cargo could shift and cause the bed of the trailer to tip.
If you need to use a ladder to unload, use one that is specifically designed for trailers. The safety ladders prevent your need to find footing on uneven surfaces of the trailer. Look for ladders that have traction on the steps, support handles, and can be secured to the side of the bed of the trailer. If you are looking for flatbed trailers for rent, make sure to ask for the lender about what the truck has and any other safety tools you should know about.
Safety is extremely important when it comes to driving a flatbed trailer. You will want to go over these steps every time you load and unload your trailer. If you are on long trips, make sure you check the straps and other safety measures on your trailer to make sure that elements on the road have not caused any damage.