Fall Protection Requirements for Flatbed Trucks

Written by dennis hartman
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Fall Protection Requirements for Flatbed Trucks
Flatbeds often carry cargo that other trucks can't. (rail flatbed image by pearlguy from Fotolia.com)

Flatbed trucks can accommodate cargo that would be impossible to fit on other types of vehicles. However, because of their open design, flatbeds increase the chance of falling cargo which can be lost or cause damage to other vehicles. They also represent a danger to the workers who must load them. To protect against falls there are several requirements that should be part of every flatbed shipping job.

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Loading Racks

Loading racks are one way to minimise the risk of falls for workers who load and unload flatbed truck cargo. These portable crash barrier systems are on wheels and can be positioned alongside a truck during loading and unloading, The rails give workers something to hold on to while walking the length of the truck bed. They can also catch workers if they stumble toward the edge of the bed. Loading racks also protect ground-level workers from falling cargo.

Standard Safety Gear

Standard safety gear, including hard hats and work boots, is essential for safe loading and unloading. Because the cargo for a flatbed truck may be lowered onto the truck bed from a crane or hoist, workers can be hit by falling cargo or debris. All workers who attend to the loading or unloading of a flatbed should wear basic safety equipment.

Tie Downs

Tie downs are rubber or fabric straps that workers use to secure cargo on a flatbed. They feature a ratcheting mechanism that pulls the tie down tightly over the cargo, preventing cargo from shifting during transport. Most tie downs run from one side of the bed to another, but it may be necessary to add tie downs that prevent cargo from shifting toward the cab or rear of the truck during braking, acceleration or uphill driving.


Tarps are even more secure than tie downs. A flatbed truck carrying loose cargo should have a tarp covering the cargo area. This protects cargo from the environment and also helps keep it contained. A tarp must be firmly affixed to the truck's bed to prevent wind from pulling it loose.

Safety Training

Training is an essential part of any safety program. Flatbed truck drivers and loaders should know how to install and operate tarps, tie downs and loading racks. In addition, drivers should be required to stop and inspect the truck at regular intervals to ensure that the cargo is secure.

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