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Regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration put the responsibility for securing a heavy equipment load directly on the driver hauling the load. This makes it crucial for tying down heavy equipment correctly to prevent accidents. Regulations cover all types of loads. The key to tying down any type of heavy equipment is to make sure nothing shifts, sways or falls during shipment. You will need to stow all auxiliary gear properly and use chains to tie down your load at the appropriate points of contact.
Inspect your flatbed before loading the equipment on the truck. Check all bolts on the flatbed to ensure there is no rust, cracking or looseness of bolts on any of the support beams and posts, if equipped. Check all the lug nuts on your tires to ensure a tight fit. Check that the tires are properly inflated.
Load your equipment on the flatbed. When you load your equipment, make sure you load it so the weight spreads evenly over the flatbed, not too much forward, backward or to one side.
Inspect all your chains and locks. Make sure your chains are free from rust, with no cracking or broken links. Make sure your locks are free from rust and that they open and lock properly.
Stow all auxiliary gear on the piece of equipment you load properly. Using your chains, secure each piece of auxiliary gear to the equipment by wrapping the chain multiple times. Use a lock to secure the chain once you have a tight fit. The objective is to ensure the gear cannot move or shift during shipment. You should never use rope, wire or any other materials that require you to tie knots.
Tie down your equipment to the flatbed at fours points on the equipment. Two points needs to be as close to the front as possible, one on each side. The other two points need to be as close to the back as possible, one on each side. Make sure you wrap the chains to get a tight fit and secure the chains with your locks, one on each chain.
Inspect your load again to make sure all chains remains secure with your locks and all have a tight fit. Check all bolts on the flatbed again to ensure they are not loose. Make sure the lug nuts remain tight on your wheels. Have a second person check you load for you before you begin driving.
Drive your truck a short distance, slowly, at the beginning of your trip, a few hundred yards at most and stop. Get out and inspect your load again making sure all chains and locks are secure and there are not loose bolts on the truck or the wheels.
Inspect your load again before you complete the first 50 miles of your trip and then every three hours or 150 miles thereafter. If you switch drivers during the trip, you should also conduct your inspections each time you do so, in addition to every three hours or 150 miles.
Direct your attention to the road conditions as you drive. Road hazards present many dangers to those hauling heavy equipment. Any bump, pothole or dip could potentially shift your load. The key is to driving slow and cautiously, but if you happen to get jarred from a road hazard, pull over and inspect your load to ensure safety.
Always keep your tire pressure as close to the upper range as possible. This will allow the tires to runner cooler, wear slower and carry more weight.
You should always use wheel chocks, securely in place, in front of and behind the wheels of your equipment, to help prevent slippage forward or backwards.
- road work image by Aaron Kohr from Fotolia.com