At Mytee Products in Aurora, Ohio, this is the time of year when truck drivers start coming in to stock up on extra tarps and straps. The approaching winter weather means a trucker’s cargo control equipment is on the verge of undergoing some of the harshest punishment it will see all year. But trucks can’t stop just because temperatures fall and the snow starts flying. Truckers just have to make the best of it.
Cargo control is an added responsibility that flatbed truck drivers have to deal with year-round. In the winter though, it can become a nightmare. There are both safety and practical issues drivers need to think about when loading and unloading. Just one mistake could have terrible consequences.
Applying Tarps in the Wind
Every experienced flatbed trucker knows the perils of applying tarps in the wind. Even on days when the wind is mostly still, it only takes a little breeze to lift a tarp and carry it clear across the shipping yard. So imagine the difficulty of trying to apply truck tarps when the wind is howling on a day with temperatures barely above freezing.
Tarps can be especially troublesome in the winter because they are hard to handle. The material is not as flexible, there tends to be more wind, and drivers have to do what they do while wearing gloves or suffering with cold numbed fingers. It is not easy.
Ice and Snow Hazards
One would think that ice and snow are not a problem for flatbed truckers, but they really are. Unless a flatbed load is fairly uniform across its entire surface, it can be extremely difficult to get tarps taut enough to guarantee no water will pool and freeze. So that means truckers must be extra careful to remove snow and ice at the start of a new day’s travels. Once at the delivery location, they have to be careful about snow and ice, especially if they have to walk on top of the load.
Of course, snow and ice can damage tarps as well. It only takes one missed piece of ice to put a big, nasty hole in an otherwise pristine tarp. And, unfortunately, tears and holes cost money.
It should be obvious that applying truck tarps is easier during the daylight hours. During the winter though, truck drivers have less daylight to work with. That means they have to take extra care when applying tarps in the dark. The driver who cannot see well enough to safely affix bungee straps is taking a risk of one of them breaking loose and striking him or her in the face. Another trucker who has to climb on top of the load in order to apply a tarp is taking the risk of slipping and falling.
If you add inclement weather to the darkness, you have a potentially volatile situation that is not guaranteed to end well. Flatbed truckers really have to concentrate when applying tarps after the sun goes down.
It is a Safety-First Thing
Sales reps at Mytee Products are known to tell their customers that applying truck tarps should always be a ‘safety-first’ thing. No load is so important that a driver should risk life or limb just to cover it up. If tarping cannot be done safely, it should be delayed until such time as conditions improve.
Winter is now upon us flatbed truckers, so take care of yourselves out there. Whatever you do, do not take lightly the very real perils of tarping your loads. Be smart and safe.