Basic Principles of Hay Tarp Safety

While conducting a brief review of past blog posts, it occurred to us that it would be a good idea to share safety tips involving hay tarps. We talk a lot about trucker safety for cargo control, but apparently the topic of hay tarp safety hasn’t been addressed. This post aims to change that.

It is important to start an ongoing discussion centered around using hay tarps safely, beginning with this post covering a few basic principles. We may produce future posts that get into more advanced principles for hay stacking, tarping, and moisture control.

If you are looking for a way to protect your hay without using a barn or storage shed, Mytee Products has several options to choose from. We carry a full line of hay tarps along with temporary storage structures made with galvanized steel pipe and heavy-duty PE fabric.

And now, on to the basic principles of hay tarp safety.

Principle #1: Limit the Size of Your Stacks

We never cease explaining to truckers how dangerous it is to walk on the top of a load to secure tarps. In fact, we recommend avoiding the practice if at all possible. The same applies to stacks of hay. Every new layer you add to a stack also adds height. If your stacks are too high, you may find you have to climb on top in order to properly secure tarps. Remember: with height comes increased danger in the event of a fall.

It is best to limit your stacks to 10 or 12 feet, at the most. If you do have to climb on top, make sure you use an extension ladder long enough to elevate you above the top of the stack as you climb on. Attempting to get on top of a stack using a stepladder is just not wise.

Principle #2: Don’t Tarp Under Windy Conditions

Avoid attempting to deploy tarps on windy days. Hay growers, like truck drivers, sustain a good number of their tarp-related injuries as a result of wind catching tarps. If you absolutely must deploy a tarp on a windy day, make sure you stand up wind of your haystack. Then, if the wind does catch the tarp, it will blow away from you instead of against you.

Principle #3: Get Help When Tarping

Hey tarps are a lot heavier than you might think. Therefore, do yourself a favor and get help when you are ready to cover your hay. There is no need to be a hero by trying to tarp yourself. Being a hero could result in a hernia, a back injury, or something worse.

Principle #4: Wear Protective Gear

You will most likely be using straps or bungee cords to secure your tarps. As such, you should wear head and eye protection. You never know when something could snap back and strike you with enough force to knock you on your backside. The last thing you need is a head or eye injury.

Principle #5: Check Grommets before Deploying

With the exception of damaged seams, the weakest link on any hay tarp is its grommets. You can go a long way toward remaining safe by inspecting every grommet prior to deployment. If a grommet appears even slightly damaged or loose, do not use it. Either get the tarp fixed or work around the grommet in question.

At Mytee Products, we firmly believe in the safety-first mindset. We encourage our hay tarp customers to use the utmost care when covering hay stacks this fall. Your hay can be replaced; you cannot be.


Easy Care and Maintenance Tips for Ratchet Straps

Your ratchet straps are among the most important tools you own as a flatbed trucker. Without ratchet straps, you would be left to secure everything you haul with chains and ropes. Imagine the amount of work that would be! Be that as it may, you need to protect your investment in ratchet straps by taking care of each one as though it were gold.

The thing about ratchet straps is that they are not invincible. They can wear out and break over time. A good goal is to maximize the life of your straps by taking care of them as best you can. To that end, we recommend a handful of easy care and maintenance tips gleaned from experienced drivers who have visited our warehouse.

Keep Straps Out of the Sun

The sun’s ultraviolet rays break down both nylon and polyester fibers. This is what causes ratchet straps to discolor and become brittle. It is best to keep straps out of the sun when they are not in use. For our money, the best way to go is to either store your ratchet straps in an exterior toolbox or somewhere in the back of your cab.

Note that the sun will eventually damage webbing material to a point of reducing its strength. Keep an eye on discoloration as the first signal. When a strap looks unusually pale, be extra vigilant in your visual inspections. Webbing material that has lost almost all its color is probably on its way out.

Don’t Store Wet Straps

Mold and mildew are never a truck driver’s friends. They are especially damaging to ratchet straps inasmuch as mold and mildew can weaken fibers over time. Therefore, treat your ratchet straps the same way you treat your tarps in terms of moisture. Never store a wet strap except in an emergency situation. Instead, let it thoroughly dry before putting it away. If you do end up with mold on a strap, do not use a chlorine-based product to clean it. Use a product that is friendly to the webbing material the strap is made of.

Remove Webbing from Handles

When taking ratchet straps out of use, be sure to remove webbing from the handles. This prevents the webbing from getting too tightly wrapped around the spindle or catching on the teeth of the ratchet. You’ll find that your ratchet straps last a lot longer just by following this one simple tip.

Wrap Webbing around the Ratchet

With webbing removed from the handle, we recommend wrapping it entirely around the ratchet and securing it with a rubber band. This protects the ratchet from road vibration while also keeping everything in your toolbox neat and tidy.

Lubricate the Ratchets

Finally, be sure to lubricate your ratchets with a dry silicone spray or industrial lubricating oil. We recommend against solvents like WD-40, as their lubricating properties are rather short-lived. Whatever your lubricant of choice, use it carefully and sparingly. Do your best to avoid allowing lubricant to come in contact with strap webbing.

As always, thoroughly inspect ratchet straps as you are tying down your load. If you ever question the integrity of a strap or ratchet, don’t use it. You are better off being safe than sorry. Remember that it only takes one failure to create big problems. Those are problems you do not need.

Mytee Products is your source for everything flatbed trucking, including ratchet straps. Before you take to the road for your next job, make sure you have all the straps, tarps, and protectors, and bungee straps you need.