Hauling heavy equipment? Use this Best Practices checklist to ensure your load is secure

Updated Dec 14, 2015

Heavy equipment hauling heavy haul construction equipment

Moving heavy equipment safely is no small task. We’ve all seen or read stories when things did not go according to plan — with disastrous results. Keeping the hauled equipment in place mitigates the risk during accidents, sudden stops, and high speed turning maneuvers.

During roadside inspections in 2015, there have been in excess of 40,000 violations regarding load securement. Inspectors have a host of descriptions that they can attach to these violations, which include:

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To compound the problem, nearly 80% of the time the vehicle was placed out of service during the roadside inspection, impeding revenue and the productivity flow.

There are best practices to assist in the reduction of violations and to mitigate risk. But if in doubt, check the regulations found in §393.120, or the Canadian securement standards.

Best Practices

Before loading

  • Verify that the transport vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating and/or gross combination weight rating will not be exceeded.
  • Determine if permits for oversize or overwidth movements will be required.
  • Are there any loading guidelines that need to be followed for the equipment, such as the use of locking pins, brakes, a particular transmission gear, outriggers, or deck wideners?
  • Determine where the equipment will be placed on the transport vehicle to balance the weight distribution and to secure the equipment properly.
  • Inspect the equipment’s securement points for wear and damage.
  • If there will be low friction between the equipment and the transport vehicle (such as metal crawler tracks on a metal deck), determine if friction devices are necessary.
  • If the equipment to be hauled has rubber tires, verify the tire pressure. Low pressure may result in the loosening of the tiedowns.
  • Remove any excessive aggregate, dirt, debris, or other substances that may fall or reduce friction during transit.

During loading

  • Do not operate or load equipment that you do not know how to operate, or operate safely.
  • When possible, place the equipment against a vehicle structure to help prevent forward movement – unless the weight distribution or securement considerations will not allow.
  • Be cautious when attaching securement devices over brake or hydraulic hoses or cylinders to avoid damage to those components.
  • Use edge protection to prevent damage to the tiedowns or to the equipment.
  • Whenever possible, use the equipment manufacturer’s designated attachment points and follow the manufacturer’s securement recommendations.
  • Do not use any attachment point that is of questionable strength or suitability.
  • Chain is the preferred tiedown for heavy equipment and machinery.
  • Use direct tiedowns whenever possible, but keep in mind that direct tiedowns require the use of more tiedowns than when using indirect.
  • Use chocks, cradles, wedges, or other means placed against the wheels to prevent rolling of wheeled vehicles. These devices need their own securement.

After loading

  • Lower all accessory equipment and other movable parts such as hydraulic shovels, booms, plows, crane arms, etc., and secure them to the transport vehicle using tiedowns. Accessories equipped with locking pins or similar devices which prevent movement in any direction do not have to be secured with additional securement devices.
  • Hydraulics alone are not enough to secure accessory equipment.
  • If the equipment being transported has an articulation point, pivot, or hinge within its construction, lock or restrain the vehicle or equipment to prevent any articulation while in transit.
  • Accessories and other items that are not attached to the equipment must be secured to the transport vehicle following the general rules for cargo securement.
  • Confirm the actual height and width of the vehicle.
  • Complete all required enroute securement inspections.

Minimum tiedown requirements

  • If the loaded vehicle has crawler tracks or wheels, at least four tiedowns need to be used to prevent movement side-to-side, forward, rearward, and vertically.
  • An indirect tiedown routed through an anchor point and attached to both sides of the trailer is counted as a single tiedown.
  • A chain can be used as two tiedowns if properly attached to two anchor points using two binders, with slack in the middle of the chain, so that a break in the middle would not affect either tiedown.
  • The sum of the working load limits of the tiedowns must equal at least 50% of the weight of the cargo. If unsure of the cargo’s weight, additional tiedowns may be needed.
  • Attach tiedowns either:
    • As close as possible to the front and rear of the equipment, or
    • At the mounting points on the equipment designed for that purpose.

Following good and compliant securement processes will “keep things in place” not only while moving equipment from place to place, but also during an accident or other extreme maneuver. As Flannery O’Connor famously penned in 1955, “The life you save may be your own!”