By Kevin Hill, Quality Scales Unlimited
Transporting loads is dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing and you don’t already have any safety measures in place. Workers who load and unload cargo are exposed to the risk of some serious injury when handling heavy cargo if they don’t know or follow the correct safety procedures. Knowing the safety precautions and correct handling techniques can mean the difference between life and death for some of your staff and co-workers because transporting goods is not as simple as getting goods from one place to the other.
Eleven General Precautions You Should Follow in Your Cargo Loading Operations
1. Make sure all the loading areas are well lit and away from both vehicles and pedestrians.
2. Your loading areas should be strong, stable and flat as well as being clear of any obstructions and potholes.
3. Make sure the delivery vehicle’s components are all in good working order, e.g. reflectors, lights, horn etc.
4. Install safety guards for the dangerous parts of the vehicle, such as exposed exhaust pipes.
5. Make sure the delivery vehicle is properly parked, stabilized and braked.
6. Clear any loose junk lying around in the truck/vehicle before you start to load it.
7. Try to apply one tie-down for every 10 feet of cargo.
8. Use a red flag to mark any loads that extend for more than three feet beyond the body of the vehicle; opt for a red light at night.
9. Apply at least four binders for loads such as pipes and logs that are 27 feet long, and make sure that the space between the binders is equal.
10. Don’t load any unsecured items on the backseat or rear window of the vehicle that can obstruct the driver.
11. Check your load frequently when you’re transporting it; this is all the more important when you are travelling over long distances.
Securing the Cargo
It is very important that any cargo that you transport is secured properly so there is no movement in the storage area. Loose cargo can be dangerous because it can injure your personnel.
Examine Your Equipment Before Use
Do a proper routine check of the cargo you’re transporting as well as the equipment you are using to do so. Your routine check should include checking the brakes, steering, controls, warning devices, mast and tires. If there are any damaged or faulty parts, you should note the damage with your technical department and only use that equipment after repair.
Importance of Proper Visibility when Handling Cargo
At all costs, avoid handling any goods in poor visibility conditions. If your visibility is compromised due to weather conditions or bad lighting, you need to improve your visibility conditions before resuming work. Make sure the lighting conditions are not blinding to the eyes, though.
Using Lifting Equipment Properly
Handling of cargo requires the use of lifting equipment such as wire ropes, hooks, forklifts, cranes, etc. Make sure to have all of your equipment properly tested and in line with the relevant rules and regulations needed. Incorrect use of your equipment can be dangerous to your staff as well. Faulty equipment can endanger your workers’ lives.
Make sure to examine the physical condition of your cargo as soon as it arrives. Check if the container is clean as well as if it is waterproof, odor proof or dust proof. Examine if the cargo is fitted with cargo restraint devices and if they are in good condition.
Make sure to check the weight of all your cargo using truck weighing scales or belt weighing scales after all the inspections have been completed.
Avoid These Hazards
• Avoid any bumpy, uneven or slippery ground surfaces.
• Clear out any loose objects because they obstruct handling of cargo or handling equipment.
• Honk your horn to alert nearby pedestrians and co-workers of your actions and whereabouts to avoid any unnecessary collisions.
• Maintain a good distance between other trucks for safety.
• Make sure there is enough open space.
If you are a part of this process, it is vital that you have a clear idea of how to handle, load, unload and weigh your cargo properly and safely. Don’t underestimate the importance of weighing and documentation in the entire process because they ensure there are no problems in the weight and condition of the cargo you transport.
Kevin Hill heads the marketing efforts at Quality Scales Unlimited in Byron, CA. Besides his day job, he writes about the different types of scales and their importance in various industries. He also writes about how to care for and get optimized performance from different scales in different situations.