Personnel is key
Gary Knudsen, in-house and regional sales manager for Towmaster Trailers, says, “While common sense should prevail when dealing with trailers, the yard personnel that have gained their knowledge through experience and training are the key element in trailer safety. They know how to attach them to the tow vehicle, load the equipment, secure it properly and can instruct trailer customers how to use the trailers.” To aid in safety, Towmaster has posted an 18-point safe towing guideline on its website (www.towmastertrailers.com/towing) and includes safe towing instructions in all product manuals.
To train heavy equipment owners and operators, the “package” Eager Beaver Trailers provides with each of its trailers includes a training CD that covers safe trailer operations for heavy equipment haulers. The package also contains a copy of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations pocketbook that describes the major driver and equipment regulations prescribed by the U. S. Department of Transportation. Brent Hohman, western sales manager at Trail-Eze Trailers, says that his comapny has two different CDs that come with its owners’ packages. One is for hydraulic-tail trailers, the other for sliding-axle trailers.
Tony Spence, warranty manager at Eager Beaver Trailers, also publishes periodic “Beaver Bulletins” dealing with specific safety issues for trailer operators. His most recent issue covered the new de-icing compounds such as magnesium chloride used to prevent slick conditions. Unfortunately, these chemicals can have a corrosive affect on brakes, wiring and other components on the underside of trailers, Spence’s bulletin warns.
Be sure to inspect
Along with getting the right size trailer for the load, Ladner points out that trailers in an owner’s fleet must have inspection and maintenance on a regular schedule and the local department of transportation (DOT) guidelines for their delivery area. It’s the owner that is fully liable if there is an accident and the owner is responsible for safe education. He emphasizes, “It places a huge responsibility on the owner.”
Drivers also need to inspect the equipment on a daily basis before starting out and should check the security of a load again for settling after the first 50 miles of any long trip.
While not strictly part of the trailer but worth noting is the transport chains and binders used to secure heavy equipment loads. Chain is not that large an investment; if your chain is the least suspect, better safe than sorry. Chain comes in various grades and thickness; the most commonly used chain in securing loads is Grade 70, 3/8 in., which has a 6,600-lb. maximum pull. For heavier loads, there is a Grade 70, 1/2 in. with 11,300 maximum pull.
Binders, chains, hooks and clevis pins all should be permanently marked with their capacity. If you find you need to upgrade your binders, ratchet binders have twice the strength of mechanical lever binders, and they are also much easier to tighten than the lever ones.
Whether its chains, ropes, wraps or webbing, whatever secures the load must comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations regarding the Aggregate Working Load Limit. The basic requirement is that tiedowns must have the combined strength equal to at least 50 percent of the load being secured.
The way to calculate the aggregate load limit is to add 50 percent of the working load limit of each tiedown used to secure the load; and if the total is greater than 50 percent of the load being carried, it is secured within the limit requirements. For example, assume that a trailer is being loaded with an 11,000-lb. telehandler, which will be held with four Grade 70, 3/8-in. chains. Since each chain is rated at 6,600 maximum pull, the aggregate working load limit is 6,600 lbs. divided by two. The total of the four chains added together is 13,200 lbs. That’s more than enough to hold the 11,000-lb. telehandler.