How to Tie Down Flatbed Loads

Written by cody sorensen
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How to Tie Down Flatbed Loads
Cargo straps are used to secure the logs on this flatbed railcar. (rail flatbed image by pearlguy from

There are two common type of securement devices used to tie down flatbed loads. Chains with binders and nylon straps. Chains are used to hold down steel or machinery while straps are used on less dense freight such as lumber and palletised goods. The Department of Transportation has port of entries in each state where cargo securement devices are inspected for proper placement and load capacity. Placing the tie downs over freight correctly and using the correct amount of straps for the weight of the cargo being tied down is regulated by federal and state laws.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Load weight
  • Trailer winches
  • 12 chains, 1/2-inch link by 20 feet long with a 2268kg. load capacity
  • 12 chain binders for 1/2-inch chain links
  • Winch bar
  • 12 cargo straps, 4 inches wide by 20 feet long with a 2268kg. load capacity
  • 20 cargo protectors, 12-by-12-inch pieces of remnant carpet

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  1. 1

    Load the flatbed trailer with the cargo. Ask the shipper how much the cargo weighs. Divide the total weight of the cargo by the load capacity of an individual chain or strap. If the load weighs 22680 Kilogram, 10 chains or straps will be needed to legally tie down the load.

  2. 2

    Inspect the position of the load on the trailer. Ensure that each piece of cargo is in line with at least two winches on the side of the trailer. Use two straps over each piece of cargo that could be damaged by chains and use two chains and two binders over cargo that cannot be damaged by chains. Cover all edges of cargo with pieces of remnant carpet to protect them from damage caused when tightening down straps and chains.

  3. 3

    Thread the hooked end of each strap down through the outer safety rail of the trailer and hook it to the under frame of the trailer. Roll up the straps and throw them up and over the cargo so that they fall down on the other side of the trailer. Walk around to the other side and thread the strap ends through the slot in the trailer winches and twist the winches until the slack of the strap is rolled up around the winch. Place the tip of the winch bar into the hole on the side of the winch and bring the bar down several times with your strength and body weight until the strap is tight.

  4. 4

    Thread the hooks of the chains down through the safety rail and hook it to the under frame of the trailer where cargo can be tied down using chains. Throw the chains up and over the cargo so the chains hang down on the other side. Walk around and thread the hooks of these chains down through the safety rail and to the frame of the trailer letting the slack in the chain dangle over the side of the trailer.

    How to Tie Down Flatbed Loads
    This picture illustrates the safety rail of a flatbed trailer. (flatbed truck, forklift image by Greg Pickens from
  5. 5

    Place a chain binder on each chain by taking one of the binders hooks and hooking it to the highest link in the chain you can reach. Take the other hook of the binder and pull it down so the handle of the binder goes all the way up. Grasp the slack in the chain and bring it up tight. Slide the bottom hook of the binder over a link in the chain. Place the open end of the winch bar over the end of the binder handle and then pull the winch bar down to lock the binder and pull the chain tight.

Tips and warnings

  • Always use more straps or chains then the load weighs to be on the safe side.

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