How to secure flatbed loads

Written by cody sorensen
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How to secure flatbed loads
It's your responsibility to secure the load on your flatbed trailer. (road work image by Aaron Kohr from

Securing a load on a flatbed trailer is a job that should be done safely and effectively. The most common loads shipped on flatbed trailers are palletised goods, lumber and steel. These items each require a different method of securement. Federal Department of Transportation-approved straps can be used on palletised goods and lumber, while chains are best for securing steel loads. A flatbed trailer must be equipped with winches if cargo straps will be used to secure the load.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 12 hooked cargo straps, 4-inch by 20-feet (2268kg. load capacity)
  • 12 chains, 20 feet long and 1/2-inch diameter links (2268kg. load capacity)
  • Winch bar

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  1. 1

    Ensure the pallets or bundles of lumber are loaded properly on the trailer. Butt pallets and bundles together so they touch in the middle of the trailer using a forklift. This will ensure straps remain tight while in transit. Loosely placed pallets and bundles have a tendency to move inward during transit causing the straps to loosen.

  2. 2

    Attach the hooked end of two straps to the side of the trailer without winches and then roll up the straps and toss them up and over the pallets or bundles of lumber. Use two straps for every pallet and two straps for every bundle of lumber. If the bundles of lumber exceed 10 feet, an extra strap for every additional 5 feet of length is required.

  3. 3

    Walk around the trailer to the side where the straps are hanging down and pull them tight while lining them up with their correlating winch. Thread the end of each strap through the slot in the roller winch until all of the slack in the strap is taken up. Twist the winch with your fingers to do this until hand-tight. Insert the tip of a winch bar into the winch hole and tighten the strap by pulling down on the bar with your arms and body weight.

  1. 1

    Ensure the steel is loaded on the trailer as tight as the forklift or crane operator can get it. Ask them to bundle the steel with steel banding if possible. Ask the operator to centre the load evenly on the trailer from front to back and from side to side to distribute the weight evenly.

  2. 2

    Hook a chain to the side rail of the trailer at the front of the load of steel. Throw the other end of the chain up and over the load so it falls down on the other side of the trailer. Throw subsequent chains every 5 feet until reaching the rear of the load.

  3. 3

    Ask the shipper how much the load weighs. Divide this total by 5,000. If the load weighs 20412kg., nine chains, each with a load capacity of 2268kg., will be needed to secure the weight safely. Use more chains than the weight requires to be on the safe side.

  4. 4

    Walk around to the side of the trailer where the chains are hanging down and pull each of them tight to take out the slack. Attach the hooks to the side rail of the trailer. Place a chain binder on each chain so the top and bottom hooks are each attached to a link in the chain and the handle of the binder is up in the air.

  5. 5

    Place a winch bar on the binder handle and pull down on the bar until the binder handle locks tight into place and the chain tightens down.

Tips and warnings

  • You may have to undo the chain binders and reapply them until the chains on the load of steel are tight.
  • Check straps and chains every so many miles to ensure they remain tight while the load is in transit.

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