Drivers who have the demanding job of hauling loads on a flatbed every day face dangers every time they operate the equipment necessary to transport loads. Driving an old-fashioned flatbed truck exposes drivers to some of the most common and potentially hazardous risks in the business, which is a well-known and widely accepted fact within the profession.
Over the course of several decades, there has not been much of a shift in the fundamental structure of flatbed operation. In point of fact, the majority of risk factors are "built-in" to both the equipment in and of itself as well as the nature of the freight that is traditionally hauled by flatbeds.
The use of flatbed trucks allows for the transportation of heavy loads that are typically incompatible with other types of trucks, such as construction equipment, sheds, and even sections of houses. Unfortunately, the cargo that is transported by flatbed trucks can also increase the likelihood that both the drivers of those trucks and the trucks themselves will be involved in serious accidents.
Flatbeds Specially Have Heavy Cargo
To stop or slow down a truck, more time and space will be needed if the truck is heavier. Flatbed trailers lack standard trailer amenities like walls and ceilings. That's why trailers can carry heavy and cumbersome loads, as well as loads that are large in size. Flatbed trucks can haul anything from large loads of lumber or other construction materials to heavy machinery to other motor vehicles (like military tanks) to entire houses. Heavy cargo can make it difficult for a driver to stop or slow down suddenly. Rear-end collisions and overrides are two types of accidents that can occur if drivers are not properly trained or qualified to operate this type of truck.
There is a risk of jackknife collisions if the trailer's weight causes the flatbed truck's coupling to break. A jackknifed trailer swings out in a direction perpendicular to the road and the truck's cab. A trailer's swinging out not only endangers any vehicles in its path, but also can quickly cause a truck driver to lose control of their vehicle. When trucks get out of control and hit obstacles, they can leave a path of destruction in their wake. Spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, burns, amputations, and other disabling wounds are just some of the common outcomes of these mishaps.
It is true that a collision is one of the many things that can dislodge poorly secured cargo, but there are other possibilities as well. For instance, if cargo is not properly secured, the truck driver's sudden stop or quick acceleration could cause the load to shift, resulting in the cargo spilling out onto the road. There's a chance that this will cause an incident. If the load is not properly secured, it is more likely to move as the truck turns. Any of these could cause cargo to fall onto the road, where it would be in the way of oncoming traffic and potentially cause a chain reaction of accidents. A cargo load that is not properly secured could fall on top of another vehicle. Because of this, multiple drivers could be seriously injured, and the trucking company that owned the flatbed truck and/or employed the truck driver could be held liable for their damages.
Injuries from falling off a flatbed truck are often severe. Companies often only realise they need a flatbed safety plan or fall protection equipment after an accident has already occurred. This increases the risk of harm to motorists. These four major factors significantly increase your risk of injury in the event of a fall from a flatbed truck or trailer and should be taken into account.
Small work areas
The parking spaces for flatbed trailers are frequently very close to one another. When you are moving and arranging loads, you will typically find that you have only a few feet at a time to work with. When you are attempting to secure equipment or items to your bed, this confined space makes it difficult for you to move around. If you try to secure a tarp in this confined space, you will significantly increase your chances of suffering a fall as well as a wide variety of other injuries.
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It's possible that in order to secure your load, you'll need to walk on the flatbed itself. If a portion of the decking is uneven or wet, it can easily cause you to slip, and even cause you to fall off of the trailer. Walking on the surface of the trailer is one of the riskiest things you can do because of the potential hazards you could be exposed to. Walking on the surface and climbing up and down the trailer at the same time significantly increases the risk of injury to the person doing both of those things.
Working with loads of different shapes
The use of flatbed trailers is common for transporting loads that cannot be accommodated in vans or trailers, or for loads that must be loaded from the top or side. These items frequently come in a variety of shapes, each of which makes it challenging to secure them to the bed of the flatbed trailer. These trailers typically transport lengthy pieces of steel or wood, in addition to the majority of types of machinery.
When you've covered this kind of apparatus with a tarp, it can be difficult to know where you're stepping when you go to remove it. It is possible for loads to shift while being transported, leaving behind empty spaces that you are unaware of. Alternatively, the load may be uneven, making it risky to step onto it. If you step into a space where there is a gap or onto an object that moves, you put yourself in danger of taking a serious fall.
Climbing up and down on a flatbed trailer
There are a number of different reasons why climbing onto and off of your flatbed trailer can be risky. If you intend to climb using the tyres, be aware that they may be slick or too high for you to reach in an effective manner. You might feel the urge to jump down from the trailer as you dismount the truck, but doing so is one of the most dangerous things that truck drivers can do. If the trailer is too high, you run the risk of injuring your joints and bones, as well as falling and suffering an even more serious injury.
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What happens when you fall from a flatbed trailer?
If you were working on a flatbed trailer and you fell off, you could lose a lot of valuable work time. The vast majority of falls necessitate medical attention and frequently result in hospitalisation. These slips and falls could result in legal action, medical expenses, and even a loss of income. Rather than dealing with these issues, drivers and the companies that employ them should prioritise safety by providing the appropriate equipment.
Utilizing portable safety ladders is one method that can be utilised to improve safety when working with flatbed trailers. This safety device for trailers can be attached to either the rub rails that are already present or to bolt-on rails. Additional safety features include grips that won't slip, a support bar, and a steel construction that's built to last. The Department of Labor has given their stamp of approval to this ladder for its ability to reduce the risk of accidents, and it is currently in use across many different industries, including the military and railway companies.
Unsafely large and secured loads
The flatbed truck facilitates easier access to the cargo being transported due to its open-frame design. The increased risk of injury is the only drawback to this ingenious layout. Frequent use of flatbed trucks can be attributed to their ability to carry heavier and more cumbersome loads. Trucks like these often transport loads of lumber, steel, and machinery, all of which can have wildly varying dimensions and shapes. Products with unusual dimensions or shapes present special challenges for securing.
Unsecured cargo is a serious hazard for Florida motorists because it could fly off a flatbed truck's trailer and onto the roads if the vehicle takes a sharp turn or hits a pothole. Avoiding a collision with one of these objects may be difficult for drivers, if not impossible. Chain-reaction crashes, in which additional vehicles crash into the site of an earlier collision or the debris it left behind, are also possible after this type of accident. As a result of these accidents, many people may be affected by the property damage and personal injuries they bring about.
Flatbed trucks are massive vehicles that can be challenging to operate in a variety of environments. There is much less room for other vehicles to manoeuvre when a flatbed truck is on the road, and the truck itself can obstruct the view of other drivers. Flatbed trucks, for example, can cause accidents by obstructing a driver's view of hazards like stalled vehicles, debris in the road, or closed lanes. Ignoring risks increases the likelihood of catastrophic accidents with long-term consequences.
Because of their massive size, passengers of flatbed trucks are at a heightened risk of suffering life-threatening injuries in the event of an accident caused by a careless driver. For example, when drivers of flatbed trucks suddenly apply the brakes, it increases the risk of a collision for vehicles following them. Whenever this occurs, the driver is at risk of suffering a serious head injury, and in some tragic cases, even death, as a result of colliding with the truck's low bed.
The design of a flatbed truck does not allow for the efficient drainage of precipitation. Because of this, the bed of flatbed trucks can become extremely hazardous to walk on when it is wet. People, including workers, who are walking on the back of these trucks are at risk of getting hurt or even dying as a result of this situation. Because of the slippery conditions, a person could fall out of the truck bed and hit the frame of the truck if they land on their feet after the fall.
Approximately 60% of flatbed loads must be covered in tarps. Drivers face increased risk because they must perform this dangerous task repeatedly throughout the day. Injuries like strains, muscle tears, and back pain are common when throwing and pulling heavy canvas tarps into place.
Tarping a load often requires the driver to climb up on top of the load, which can be as much as 13 feet off the ground. Not only is there no safety nett, but there are also no handholds. The brain can sustain serious damage from a fall of just four feet, but a fall from a higher elevation while carrying a heavy load could be fatal.
The flatbed deck is typically five feet off the ground, and a fall from that height can cause serious brain damage. When there aren't any designated tarping areas at the freight terminal, drivers will sometimes make do with the roadside.
Loading and Unloading Dangers
There is also another area where flatbeds are particularly vulnerable. Operating a forklift truck on an open flatbed presents the risk that the vehicle will roll off the edge of the deck, endangering the lives of anyone nearby. There are times when loading or unloading flatbed freight requires the use of cranes or other equipment that can be operated from a distance.
An increased risk of injury to those inside and outside the trailer is a direct result of this separation. Plus, large or oddly shaped flatbed cargo may be unstable until it is properly secured. Anyone working on or near the trailer could be seriously hurt if the heavy cargo rolls or topples over.
The shippers' expertise is another potential issue, especially if they lack experience with flatbed loading. Because of this, shipping times may increase. Drivers may be hesitant to intervene and correct customers' loading techniques when doing so could cause harm during transport or when unloading at the destination.
Flatbed freight, due to its oversized and irregular shape, can pose a greater risk of the load shifting while in transit, whereas enclosed van trailers reduce this risk. Drivers are put in a dangerous position because many flatbeds lack front bulkheads to prevent heavy cargo from sliding forwards and colliding with the cab in the event of an unexpected stop or collision. Serious harm might result from this. Moreover, special dangers exist whenever very tall loads collide with overhead obstructions.
It is common for flatbeds to transport goods to construction sites or other impromptu loading and unloading areas, neither of which provide the same level of security as more traditional freight facilities. Reports indicate that flatbed drivers are more likely to sustain injuries more common in the construction industry than in freight hauling. Cuts from sharp objects, poisoning from chemicals, and shocks from electrical currents are just a few examples.
Despite their ability to accommodate many loads that previously required a flatbed, curtain side trailers are capable of reducing or actually decrease some of the risks involved with flatbed equipment. In addition to increasing the likelihood of successfully hiring and retaining professional drivers, eliminating the risky practise of tarping removes a major source of potential injuries.
Why do flatbed trucks get into accidents?
Like other large trucks, flatbeds have several drawbacks that make them more likely to be involved in an accident. Furthermore, flatbed trucks have a few unique features that can increase your risk when sharing the road with one.
Cargo Falls Accidents
Straps are the standard method used by flatbed truck loaders and drivers to safely fasten cargo. Cargo in a flatbed truck is secured with straps and only the flatbed provides support. If one of the straps fails or the cargo wasn't loaded properly, heavy items could fall off the flatbed truck and cause an accident.
Dropping heavy construction equipment or other cargo from the back of a flatbed truck can cause serious injuries to other drivers on the road. Additionally, smaller items of cargo can slide off the back of the truck, forcing the driver to swerve to avoid them, potentially crashing into the front of vehicles trailing the flatbed, or increasing the likelihood that other motorists on the road will suffer a blowout.
Overhanging cargo-related accidents
When approaching a truck, it can be difficult to gauge the size and location of the load, so it is mandatory that the driver use triangular flags to signal the presence of the load and its extended dimensions. When items extend beyond the sides or back of a truck bed by even more than four inches or four feet, respectively, the truck operator must move the items. In order to alert other drivers that their load will extend outside of their lane of travel, flatbed trucks transporting wide loads are required by law to also display special wide load signs.
In order to prevent other motorists from blocking the road, it is common practise for flatbed trucks hauling oversize loads to be associated by escort vehicles. Even with these safety measures in place, accidents can occur if overhanging cargo moves around during transport. Cargo that protrudes from the side of the truck may increase the likelihood of a sideswipe collision.
Accidents in Blind Spots
Unlike other large trucks, the bed of a flatbed truck does not get in the way of the driver's line of sight when using mirrors and staring out the back of the vehicle when it is unloaded. But the truck driver's line of sight may be obstructed by a heavy load in the truck's bed. If you get too close to a loaded flatbed truck and enter its blind spot, you greatly increase your chance of getting into an accident. Right-turn collisions and sideswipe accidents are two examples of accidents that can happen in a car's blind spot.
Like other large trucks, flatbed trucks require a plethora of parts to ensure they continue to operate as intended. The risk of an accident increases dramatically whenever any part of the vehicle breaks down mechanically, whether it's a flat tyre or broken windshield wipers in bad weather.
The same is true for accidents involving falling cargo, which is often the cause of jackknifing and falling cargo. Because of potential shifts in cargo weight during sharp turns or sudden stops, the trailer may swing forwards move independently from the truck's body.
The weight of the load itself can add significantly to this momentum, making it extremely challenging, if not impossible, for the driver to regain control of the trailer when towing a flatbed. The truck and its cargo are in danger of tipping over or colliding if the trailer loses its hold and begins to swing erratically.
Truck drivers can spend up to eleven hours driving per day on a fourteen-hour shift, even though they are technically required to be on the clock for the full fourteen hours. Because of the long hours they spend driving, truck drivers are prone to distractions and may fail to pay close enough attention to their immediate surroundings. It's possible that other motorists will become disrupted by things like texting, answering phone calls, or eating and drinking while behind the wheel.
Furthermore, many truck drivers may opt to break traffic laws and regulations in order to achieve their goals and meet their deadlines. This is definitely something you want to keep away from. Many truck drivers are compensated by the mile, making it in their financial interest to drive more quickly and make every effort to avoid stopping entirely. Even if the truck driver's speed isn't increased at the end of the shift, the likelihood of being in an accident is greatly increased due to these precautions.
Every so often, the driver of a flatbed truck should stop to make sure that the load is still securely fastened, with no signs of movement or the possibility of rolling. Drivers of flatbed trucks should periodically stop to inspect their loads, in addition to performing other safety inspections and paying attention to the roadway. On the other hand, there are some drivers who, especially after logging long hours behind the wheel, won't bother with these precautions or won't pay attention to details that might indicate the cargo is in danger of shifting.
Sharing The Road With Flatbed Trucks
Ignoring the truck's blind spots, having left plenty of room for the truck (especially in bad weather), and watching for signs that the truck plans to change lanes or turn are all things you should keep in mind when sharing the road with commercial trucks. The following, however, are some extra precautions you may wish to take if you find yourself sharing the road with a flatbed truck:
Pay attention to the cargo
You might wonder if the driver fastened the load securely on the back of a flatbed truck if you see it shifting around as you drive. Maintain a safe distance from the truck if you are concerned that the cargo could fall off. You should get out of the way and let the truck pass safely if there's any chance the load could fall. The truck driver should also be notified if you notice any cargo that appears to be unstable or falling. Don't risk your safety to get the attention of the driver. The safest option is to pull over to the shoulder, call the police, and let them stop the driver there.
In most cases, the trucking company decides which truck will be sent to pick up a specific load. However, flatbed trucks aren't always the safest option for transporting equipment or loads that are prone to falling off the back of the truck, despite being better able to handle larger and less controllable loads than semi-trucks, that must work within the confines imposed by the trailers they tow. Accidents involving falling cargo or other cargo-related injuries may involve the trucking company if it sent the wrong size of flatbed or if it sent a flatbed to haul a load that would have been better carried by another type of truck.
Manufacturing companies of both trucks and their parts, as well as the straps used to secure cargo, have a responsibility to exercise reasonable care towards other motorists who share the road with large trucks. An accident may be partially the manufacturer's fault if a defective component contributed to it. In particular, if the truck driver followed the manufacturer's guidelines when using the defective component, the truck will not be liable for any damages.
Operating a flatbed truck puts drivers in harm's way due to the nature of the job. The cargo capacity of a flatbed truck is so great that it can transport anything from a military tank to a load of lumber. Stopping or slowing down suddenly can be challenging for drivers of vehicles carrying heavy cargo. Those who fall off a flatbed truck are at high risk for serious injury. If cargo isn't properly secured, it could fall off and crush a car.
The risk of injury from a fall from a truck or trailer is greatly increased in confined spaces, so this factor must be considered. When getting on and off a flatbed trailer, there is a risk of falling. One of the most dangerous things you can do is walk around on the trailer's exterior. When conventional cargo vans or trailers are too small to accommodate a load, or if the load needs to be loaded from above or to the side, a flatbed trailer is the vehicle of choice. Most people who fall need medical attention, and many end up in the hospital because of it.
These trailer safety rails can be bolted on or used with the existing rub rails. Because of its safety features, the Department of Labor has certified this ladder for use. Operating a flatbed truck can be challenging in many settings. A flatbed truck takes up more space on the road, making it more difficult for other vehicles to pass. These trucks pose a serious danger to anyone walking behind them.
Intense brain trauma can result from falling off the deck of a flatbed truck. When driving a forklift truck on a flatbed with an open edge, the truck could fall off. Large or irregularly shaped items transported on a flatbed may be dangerous until they are safely fastened down. The risks associated with flatbed equipment can be mitigated, if not entirely eliminated, by using a curtain side trailer. By doing away with the potentially dangerous practise of tarping, a significant risk of injury is eliminated.
Injuries can occur if heavy construction equipment or other cargo is dropped from a flatbed truck. You greatly increase your chances of getting into an accident if you get too close to a loaded flatbed truck and enter its blind spot. Similar considerations apply to accidents caused by falling cargo, which is a common contributor to jackknifing. Because of the common practise of paying truck drivers by the mile, it is in their financial interest to keep moving as quickly as possible and to minimise the number of times they have to stop. In addition to routine safety checks and paying attention to the road, drivers of flatbed trucks should occasionally stop to inspect their loads.
Motorists should exercise extreme caution when sharing the road with a flatbed truck. Transporting equipment or loads that could easily roll off the back of a flatbed truck is risky business. Semi-trucks are superior to regular trucks when it comes to transporting large, unwieldy loads.
- Driving an old-fashioned flatbed truck exposes drivers to some of the most common and potentially hazardous risks in the business, which is a well-known and widely accepted fact within the profession.
- A cargo load that is not properly secured could fall on top of another vehicle.
- This increases the risk of harm to motorists.
- These four major factors significantly increase your risk of injury in the event of a fall from a flatbed truck or trailer and should be taken into account.
- Walking on the surface of the trailer is one of the riskiest things you can do because of the potential hazards you could be exposed to.
- There are a number of different reasons why climbing onto and off of your flatbed trailer can be risky.
- Utilizing portable safety ladders is one method that can be utilised to improve safety when working with flatbed trailers.
- Because of their massive size, passengers of flatbed trucks are at a heightened risk of suffering life-threatening injuries in the event of an accident caused by a careless driver.
- It is common for flatbeds to transport goods to construction sites or other impromptu loading and unloading areas, neither of which provide the same level of security as more traditional freight facilities.
- Reports indicate that flatbed drivers are more likely to sustain injuries more common in the construction industry than in freight hauling.
- Despite their ability to accommodate many loads that previously required a flatbed, curtain side trailers are capable of reducing or actually decrease some of the risks involved with flatbed equipment.
- But the truck driver's line of sight may be obstructed by a heavy load in the truck's bed.
- If you get too close to a loaded flatbed truck and enter its blind spot, you greatly increase your chance of getting into an accident.
- Even if the truck driver's speed isn't increased at the end of the shift, the likelihood of being in an accident is greatly increased due to these precautions.
- Ignoring the truck's blind spots, having left plenty of room for the truck (especially in bad weather), and watching for signs that the truck plans to change lanes or turn are all things you should keep in mind when sharing the road with commercial trucks.
- The following, however, are some extra precautions you may wish to take if you find yourself sharing the road with a flatbed truck:Pay attention to the cargoYou might wonder if the driver fastened the load securely on the back of a flatbed truck if you see it shifting around as you drive.
- Maintain a safe distance from the truck if you are concerned that the cargo could fall off.
- Don't risk your safety to get the attention of the driver.
FAQs About Flatbed Trucks
Flatbed trucks are made to handle immense loads. They can tackle heavyweights that might be too much for trailers or other vehicles. You can fit plenty onto it, which means fewer trips back and forth. You'll also have an easier time handling large, oddly shaped loads.
A flatbed truck is a large vehicle with a flat body and no sides or roof around the bed. Typically, these trucks transport heavy loads that won't be compromised in bad weather or on rough roads. Their unique bed design is ideal for loads that would be too wide for a truck with an enclosed body.
Whether your vehicle was designed with an odd shape or it became that way due to your accident, you'll need a flatbed to haul away any misshapen vehicles that a traditional hook and chain truck can't tow.
The increased storage space of a flatbed truck allows you to fit as much cargo as possible, meaning less time spent driving back and forth for multiple hauling trips. Reduced driving time leads to more efficient delivery times, which should be a top goal if you own your own trucking company.
The main difference between the two is the security provided for the vehicle. Flatbed tow trucks are safer than wheel lift tow trucks. The need to readjust the cars due to the effects of towing is less likely for flatbed tow trucks than wheel lift tow trucks.