We’ve all seen a checklist before, in fact, a checklist is used before doing a lot of things that either require special care such as going on a long road trip or performing a dangerous stunt. These checklists are put in place to make sure nothing important is forgotten about or neglected along the way.
How Does This Checklist Help?
For truckers, the cargo control and Inspection checklist is a helpful tool to minimize the chance of cargo equipment failure or cargo loss when hauling. This sort of checklist may sound standard for all truckers, but you’d be surprised just how many drivers approach every load in random order or immediate circumstances. When you load and secure in random order, you neglect certain aspects of your equipment limits as well as your trailers. Having a checklist in place ensures that all of the necessary procedures are followed and limit possible mishaps.
It’s important to note that a cargo control, inspection & shipping checklist is not a formal document that needs to be printed out and posted somewhere for the DOT to see. You could print the checklist once as a way to help you out the first couple of times, but once you know what you’re checking for, you won’t need to use it. So, what is on a cargo control checklist?
Cargo Inspection & Shipping Checklist Basics
How a driver organizes his or her cargo control checklist is a matter of preference. However, there should be certain categories of things on every driver’s checklist. Certain things should be checked before and during.
Before Loading the Cargo
- Examine the Trailer: Is the trailer size and type appropriate for the considered load?
- Clean The Trailer: The trailer should be clear of any dirt, water, or debris that could affect the load while in transit.
- Loading Equipment Ready: Make sure the equipment you have to load the trailer is appropriate.
- Securement Method: Determine how you’re going to secure your cargo. Will it be a direct or indirect tie-down? Straps or chains?
- Quantity Required: Determine how many straps or chains you may need to properly and efficiently secure your load.
- Protection Equipment: While straps keep it secure, is your cargo protected by potential elements like rain or snow? Will you need corner protectors?
While Loading the Cargo
- Remember Max Weight: Keep the maximum weight of your trailer in mind while loading. Will it be too much?
- Light on Top: Make sure lighter, more vulnerable to-weight, cargo is placed above heavier goods to prevent damage.
- Keep them Close: There shouldn’t be any space in between the loaded cargo.
- Keep it Even: Make sure that when securing, the cargo straps or tie-down chains exert an even amount of force on either side of the cargo.
- Check Your Straps/Chains: Make sure that your equipment is in good condition and not tearing.
- Check The Cargo: Check the points of contact where your cargo and straps/chains meet and make sure that they aren’t damaging the cargo.
On The Road
- Check on your Cargo: When off the road, getting gas, check the straps/chains on your cargo and make sure they’re still tight and secure.
- Check after Emergencies: In the event of an emergency stop at high speeds, check on your cargo immediately after at the nearest rest stop.
- Re-evaluate Securement After Unloading: When unloading cargo, check and or change securement to accommodate for the change in weight.
- Take it Easy: Take the drive carefully, and keep an eye out for sudden changes in traffic such as an accident or construction.
Consider the Cargo Equipments Working Load Limits
The chain grade chart is based on standard-sized chains from grades 30 through 120. These would be chains used to tie down coils, heavy equipment, and more. Below that chart is a second, smaller chart with references to webbing straps.
Truckers could use a quick reference to determine whether they are using enough working load limit for cargo securement or not. We realize that federal law requires a certain number of tie-downs based on the weight of a particular load. Required deploying those tie-downs in such a way as to prevent all forward and lateral movement.
To work out the math, the checklist includes a handy table that a driver can fill out by hand. This facilitates doing the math necessary to make sure he or she gets it right. The checklist accounts for:
- Operating weight
- Chain WLL
- Number of chains
- WLL percentages
- Current WLL load
- WLL is still needed
This WLL checklist is helpful to truckers who understand the tie-downs they need to maintain compliance.
Some Basic Questions to Answer Yourself Before You Go
- Have you covered 50% of the weight of the load?
- Have you covered the length of the load?
- Have you determined if there is a specific commodity item?
- Are there any edge protection violations?
- Is the load prevented from shifting during transport?
We do not claim to know what all that means, but we trust truckers do. Hope truckers should use this checklist as intended and still get it wrong.
Remember, this checklist isn’t DOT regulation, you do not have to perform the checklist and sign off on it every time you load your truck. This checklist is meant to help truckers get on the road so they can haul safely without worry, and make their trips more efficient. If you do need a printout of the checklist, we have one for you right here!