How to Secure Steel Loads on a Flatbed

Updated November 21, 2016

According to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, the security of loads on vehicles is a matter of public safety, and therefore subject to government regulation and a body of industry practice. There are federal laws governing the securing of steel to flatbed trailers. These regulations were put in place to protect both commercial drivers and other motorists, as well as to protect the steel freight from collateral damage. Safety should always prevail when securing a steel load to a flatbed trailer.

Divide the weight of the steel to be loaded on the trailer by 5,000. If the load of the steel is 21772 Kilogram, then the answer will be 9.6. This number refers to the amount of chain needed, with a 5,000-pound load-bearing rating, to legally secure the steel to the trailer. Ten chains would be the actual amount of chains needed.

Inspect the steel for proper bundling before it is loaded on the trailer. Ask the shipper to secure the steel bundles with steel banding, if possible. Search for pieces of steel that are odd shapes or sizes and request these to be loaded last.

Determine how many extra chains will be needed to secure the odd pieces of steel and acquire them, if necessary.

Lay wood dunnage across the width of the trailer at any point where steel will be loaded.

Inspect the trailer for damage or missing floor boards or structural frame damage. Do not load damaged trailers.

Park the vehicle to be loaded in the loading zone of the shipping yard. Put on gloves, steel-toed boots, safety glasses and a hard hat.

Stand at the rear of the trailer and direct the forklift operator to centre the load evenly on both sides of the centre line of the trailer.

Walk to both sides of the trailer and look down the sides to ensure the load is square and not overhanging.

Walk to the side of the trailer opposite the forklift and inspect the load position in relation to the centre of the trailer. Instruct the forklift operator to adjust the position so it is directly centre from front to back.

Throw a chain over the load of steel every five feet. Hook both ends of the chain to the side crash barriers on each side of the trailer. Pull the slack out of the chains alternately on each side of the trailer. Pull the slack of the first chain toward the driver's side of the trailer, the second chain to the passenger's side, and so on toward the back of the trailer.

Hook steel chain binders on both sides of each chain on each side of the trailer. If there are 10 chains, then there should be 20 binders. Inspect the steel beneath the chains to ensure each piece is in direct contact with another piece. If there is space between pieces the chains will loosen while in transit. Instruct the forklift driver to butt pieces together with the forks if necessary. Place wood dunnage beneath chains that are unable to contact small or free pieces of steel throughout the load.

Winch all steel binders down with a chain binder pry bar, inching the sides of the chain with the slack. Winch all opposing chain binders. Inspect the load for any other loose pieces of steel and add another chain if necessary.


Inspect the load of steel while in transit every 100 miles.

Things You'll Need

  • Load weight
  • Calculator
  • Forklift with maximum load capacity
  • Load spotter
  • Wood dunnage (wood boards upon which the load is placed)
  • Steel chains (20-foot length, 5,000-pound load limit)
  • Steel chain binders
  • Chain binder pry bar
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