As the weather gets colder, flatbed truck drivers have much more to consider when tarping loads. Cold temperatures, snow, and ice can all wreak havoc on tarps, and these conditions can prove dangerous for flatbed trucking. Here are some flatbed safety tips that will help you and your flatbed tarp remain intact this winter.
5 Safety Tips for Flatbed Tarping in the Winter
1. Warm Flatbed Tarps Before Use
Flatbed tarps are difficult to work with when they are cold. The material becomes stiff and brittle, making it susceptible to cracking when stretched across a load. Warm tarps are much easier to work with. If you are heading out to pick up a load and know that you are going to need to use a tarp, stick it in your truck cab for the drive to your destination. The inside of your truck will keep the tarp warm and ready to use.
It’s also important to remember that tarps can easily crack and become damaged if you try to fold them while they are still cold after delivering a load. After unloading your truck, try to find a space to let your flatbed tarp warm up before you fold it. An open warehouse space will usually do the trick and you can leave the tarp to warm up while you finish paperwork or prepare your flatbed truck for the next load. Folding the tarp will be much easier once it is warm after being exposed to cold weather.
2. Take Your Time When Tarping Your Flatbed Truck
When you are tarping a load on your flatbed truck in winter, it is important that you take your time. Even though you might be in a rush to get on the road, trying to quickly install a tarp can lead to injury and tarp damage. Because the tarp will be colder than usual, it will be more prone to tearing during installation. The strong winds that typically accompany cold weather can easily cause a small tear to spread all the way down the tarp. Hastily tarping a flatbed truck can also lead to mistakes that would normally go unnoticed in warmer weather. If you are in a rush and do not properly attach a strap, the strong winter winds can get under the tarp and cause the tarp or strap to hit you while you are trying to install it, leading to injury.
You should also consider taking a break every fifteen to twenty minutes when securing your flatbed tarp. Go inside and warm up during these breaks. This will help you avoid the harmful effects that working in the cold winter elements can have on your body. When you are cold and in a rush, mistakes can more easily be made, and these mistakes can result in injury to you and damage to the tarp and load.
3. Regularly Check D-Rings and Grommets
D-rings and grommets are key pieces of equipment in the safe installation of a flatbed tarp. These can easily become worn or damaged during winter, especially from the salt on the roads. You should regularly inspect your D-rings and grommets for damage both before and after each load delivery. If you spot any damage, you should immediately discontinue use of that tarp until it can be repaired. A damaged D-ring or grommet can cause the tarp to become loose, which can lead to injury or damage to the load.
4. Watch Out for Voids
As all experienced flatbed truck drivers know, voids are places in a flatbed tarp where water can pool. During warmer weather, these puddles of water can cause wear and tear on the tarp. However, in winter, the effect of water pooling in voids can be much more harmful. If water has pooled in a void and the temperature dips below freezing, the ice can easily rip a hole in the tarp. Damaged tarps cannot protect loads and can become dangerous when wind catches the hole and pulls. When you are tarping your flatbed truck, make sure you pull the tarp tight so there are no voids that can collect water.
5. Protect Your Hands with Gloves
Rubber-tipped gloves are the flatbed trucker’s best friend during the cold winter months. They protect your hands from the cold while allowing you to easily grip cold tarps and icy straps. If you are going to be transporting in extremely cold weather, get a pair that is a little bigger so that you can wear leather gloves underneath for an extra layer of protection against the cold.
Another great way to protect your hands during winter is by wearing latex gloves under your winter or work gloves. The latex gloves will provide a barrier around your hand to protect against moisture seeping through to your hands. Not only are cold, wet gloves miserable to wear, but they can also lead to frostbite in extreme cold. If it’s really cold, wear a pair of wool gloves, then latex gloves, followed by work gloves. Your hands will stay warm and dry while securing the load.
Flatbed Trucking in East Tennessee
At Roane Transportation, our goal is to keep our truck drivers and the loads we transport safe. We are one of the nation’s leading flatbed trucking companies and have been entrusted with meeting the hauling needs of a wide variety of clients. We can make sure your load is delivered on time and in top condition. Visit our website or call us at 865-354-3288 to learn more. If you are a driver and want to work for a company that values safety and quality, join our team.