Loads shifting in transit is a common occurrence. Most of the time, drivers are not aware of the real danger of shifted loads until it is too late. On a regular basis, drivers and warehouse staff are injured from falling freight from a trailer whose load has shifted while in transit.

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Many times, drivers are not loading the freight onto the trailer and may not be are aware of how the freight was loaded or secured. Intermodal drivers also run the run of injury from freight that may have shifted as a result of uneven loading or offloading of containers from ports or railheads. In addition, flatbed drivers are not immune from harm: while they can see the freight, once the securement devices are removed at the delivery location and the unloading process begins, cargo such as pipelines or oily materials can be knocked off or slide off during the unloading process.

For unloading a trailer, drivers should adhere to the following steps in order to be clear of falling freight, and reduce their risk of sustaining an injury:

  • Know before you go. Be aware of the type of freight that is in your trailer, beyond just “produce” – this is key, not only to make sure you are running the load at the correct temperature, but also to determine and idea of how the product may have been loaded. Bins of watermelon are loaded quite differently than cases of lettuce and are a lot heavier. Remember, the heavier the load, the harder it falls.
  • Ensure a safe passage away from potential falling freight. Can you get out of the way quickly and safely if it is necessary?
  • Practice the proper trailer opening procedures. Release the trailer latch on the right side door. As the latch is partially released, but before it is totally released, the door should be pushed to be sure it can move back and forth with no pressure. If the door does not easily move, this is an indication that the freight may have shifted and is pressing against the door. If there is any question or suspicion, alert the receiver and determine if a forklift can be used. The forks of the lift should be moved together and placed near the center edge of the door. The latch can then be fully released, and the forklift can back up slowly. As the door opens, drivers, warehouse staff, and anyone else should not be anywhere near, in case the freight begins to spill out.
  • Always remember to open one trailer door and then the other. This is the safest way to open trailer doors in ANY situation!

Want more safety tips to help reduce your risk while on the road? Check out our posts on how to prevent run-under crashes, benefits of reducing highway speed, best practices for safe following distance!

Best Practices to Protect Yourself from Falling Freight was last modified: by