Too few straps

A recent incident in Manitoba warrants a refresher blog regarding securement requirements. A truck was cut off, causing a very hard brake application, which in turn caused the load to slide forward hitting the back of the cab. Thankfully the truck was equipped with a headache rack, and the driver was not injured. The reason the load slid was because the driver had not used the minimum number of straps.  It’s that simple.  He had only 2 straps on 2 stacked lifts of 12 foot long lumber, when a minimum of 4 straps are required.  When strapping a load, it is impossible to use too many straps, but having too few can lead to a serious accident.

So how many straps are required and where should they be placed? That depends on the load. As a basic rule, you must have enough straps to hold the freight to the trailer.  Straps have a WLL (working load limit) of at least 5,400 lbs, so if the freight weighs 16,000 lbs and is 40 feet long, 3 straps are enough for the weight. But there is also a minimum strap requirement based on length as well.  You are required to have 2 straps for the first 10 feet of length, and 1 more strap for every additional 10 feet, so at 40 feet, 5 straps minimum are required. Your best bet is to have the first 2 straps as close to the front as possible, and the rest evenly spaced along the length.  It should go without saying, but make sure all the straps are as tight as possible. Myself, I’d probably use 6 or 7 straps just for the extra piece of mind.  Of course, these are the minimums, and there is no possible way we could cover all the strap requirements, as that would require an entire book.

When strapping concrete, you really need to be careful, and only use straps within 1 foot of the dunnage, or you will risk breaking the concrete. In some cases, chains and straps will be required to properly secure concrete beams to the trailer.

One other strapping requirement many drivers seem to ignore is tier strapping, more commonly known as belly strapping.  When loading thin freight, such as plywood, every 3 layers minimum, each lift requires at least one strap.  So if the load is 6 layers high, then belly straps are required over the third layer.  If it’s 8 layers high, belly straps are required over the third and sixth layers.  As a rule, when determining securement requirements, I don’t count the belly straps. If my load is 46,000 lbs and requires 3 or 4 belly straps, I’ll still use 9 or 10 straps over the top of the load.

Don Taylor has been a professional driver since March 1985.  In 1994 he made the jump to driving tractor trailers, and has accumulated over 3.5 million miles, including over 4 years of driving turnpike doubles in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.  He is currently hauling flat decks across North America.