How Important Is Cargo Securement?

How many times have you witnessed a truck/trailer (small or large), with loose or improperly secured cargo? A piece of loose cargo can easily bounce off the vehicle and present a hazard to other motorists or pedestrians. As truck operators, you are expected to safeguard the product transported.

The motoring public expects a company or organization to protect it against the risk of becoming involved in a crash caused by shifting or falling cargo. Safe cargo handling minimizes company liability exposure and helps project a safety-conscious corporate image.

Also, cargo securement expect fleet managers to protect the company from expensive claims whether those claims are cargo or tool/material losses or third-party liability claims.

In addition to strictly monetary costs, other potential costs may arise:

  • The impact of an injury or fatality.
  • The effect on customers if the cargo or service is not delivered.
  • The impact on a company’s third-party insurance rates.
  • The consequences of a vehicle loss on business operations.

To proactively deal with these cost and liability issues, a company must develop and implement a cargo securement process. Ensure all drivers are adequately trained for the specific class of vehicle they operate. As the old adage advises, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Cover the Basics of Cargo Securement

Good housekeeping practices for all fleet and non fleet vehicles are important. A clean, tidy vehicle is the first step in projecting a positive corporate image to customers and the motoring public.

  • Complete a thorough pre-trip vehicle inspection, including all components and accessories.
  • Remove all debris from the vehicle bed or trailer deck. These areas can sustain a certain amount of damage from normal use; make sure they are in good repair.
  • A critical precaution is securing a vehicle from movement while it is loaded. The parking brake may be adequate on smaller vehicles, while larger vehicles may require parking chalks.
  • Ensure the vehicle is correctly sized if it hauls large or bulky items.
  • Cargo Inspection, Securement Devices & Systems As transporters under FMCSR regulation 392.9, companies and drivers are required to: Properly distribute and secure cargo.
  • Secure all vehicle load securement devices (chains, straps, and tarps) and cargo.
  • Ensure drivers have clear visibility on all sides of the vehicle.
  • Ensure drivers have free movement of their arms and legs.
  • Provide driver access to emergency equipment and easy vehicle exit.
  • Inspect the load and devices to secure the load prior to beginning trip.
  • Inspect the load within the first 50 miles and adjust securement devices as needed.
  • Re-examine the load and securement devices during the trip, adjusting as needed.
  • Re-examination intervals must occur whenever a change-of-duty status occurs and when the vehicle has been in operation more than three hours or driven 150 miles (whichever occurs first).

Protect Against Shifting and Falling Cargo

Under Part FMCRS 393.100, the company and driver must ensure cargo transported on a public road is loaded in a manner that prevents the cargo from leaking, spilling, blowing, or falling from the vehicle. In addition, the load or vehicle contents must be secured to prevent shifting. Further, any load shifting may not negatively affect vehicle stability or maneuverability.

States Regulate Vehicle and Axle Weights

Individual states may have both gross vehicle and per-axle weight restrictions. Furthermore, some states may also have cargo covering requirements. Fleet managers and drivers must be knowledgeable about the regulations and restrictions in each state company vehicles travel.

In summary, a poorly or overloaded loaded vehicle is difficult to operate and can contribute to excessive wear and poor fuel economy. Everyone benefits from a sound cargo securement policy: companies, drivers, customers, and the motoring public.


Article found in Work Truck Magazine. About the Author – Mike Butsch is North America/fleet alliance manager for Joy Global, a worldwide machinery and services company.

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