How to Strap Down a Load on a Flatbed Trailer

Updated November 21, 2016

Professional truck drivers learn how to strap a load down on a flatbed trailer through trial and error. The way a load is strapped down depends greatly upon what type of freight is being hauled. Some loads are easier to strap down than others. Some freight can handle winching the straps down tight, and other cargo would be damaged if the straps are too tight. Experience is needed when choosing where to position the straps and how tight the straps can be cinched. Safely securing the load to the trailer should be a driver's primary concern; using more straps than legally required is always the safest idea.

Weigh the empty trailer on a certified scale. Write down the weight. Load the trailer with freight and then reweigh the trailer. Write down the loaded weight. Subtract the empty weight from the loaded weight to get the actual weight of the freight. Write this number down. Most loads weigh around 21772 Kilogram, and a 4-inch cargo strap is rated with a load capacity of 2268 Kilogram.

Divide the actual weight of the freight by 2268 Kilogram to determine how many straps will be needed to strap down the load. If the load weighs 22680 Kilogram, then 10 straps will be needed based on weight.

Determine how many extra straps will be needed to strap down irregularly shaped or unevenly spaced cargo. Use two straps over all cargo placed without cargo in front or behind it.

Inspect the trailer and find out where the winches are placed under the flatbed. Take the hook end of each strap and pull it down through the inside of the trailer's crash barrier on the opposite side of the trailer across from the winch. Hook it to the lip of the trailer bed frame. Throw the strap up and over the cargo toward the other side of the trailer.

Walk to the other side where the strap is hanging, and thread the end of the strap through the slit in the winch. Tighten it by hand by turning the winch clockwise until the excess strap is wound up. Insert the winch bar into the tightening hole on the side of the winch, and winch down the strap until it is tight.

Tighten each strap as tight as possible for cargo that can withstand the pressure, and adjust this pressure for fragile freight materials to avoid breakage. Check the position of all the straps to ensure all the cargo is secured with enough straps to hold the weight in place.

Things You'll Need

  • Calculator
  • Trailer-weld-mounted side wenches evenly spaced on both sides of the trailer
  • Department of Transportation approved straps, 20-feet long
  • Winch bar
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