Precast concrete producers strive to manufacture the best precast elements possible. They rely on knowledgeable employees and use the best ingredients possible in the production process.

But the job doesn't end when production is complete. Next comes the process of delivering that element, which may weigh several thousands of pounds, to the jobsite. Th is cannot be done without knowing how to properly secure the load and being aware of the rules of the road.

 Training for securing loads is based on Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. The pertinent sections are found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Subpart I - Protection Against Shifting and Falling Cargo, Sections 393.100 through 393.136.

The American Trucking Associations' Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) produces excellent training materials. Its "Recommended Practices Manual" reflects the best management practices for vehicle maintenance and operations. RP 739, "Maintenance, Inspection and Operating Guidelines for Cargo Securement Systems Used on Flatbed Vehicles" supplements 49 CFR 393.

The RP covers not just the securement device itself, but also all anchor points and hardware used to secure the anchor points to the vehicle. Devices include chains, straps, webbing, pipe or roll wedges, and even wire and synthetic rope, the most commonly used tie-down materials.

Much attention is given to tracks and mounting assemblies for tie-downs and cargo restraint. Tracks for sliding winches and railings should be inspected to assure they are securely fastened and free of cracks and structural damage. There should be positive stops on all track ends to prevent them from falling off.

Winch inspection should include welds and mounting devices that hold winches onto rails. Check winch mechanisms for deformed mandrels, bent or broken ratchet teeth, and bent pawls that could cause a sudden release while under loads. Ratchet tie downs for web straps should be checked for cracked or deformed frames, damaged or missing pawls, ratchet teeth, and handle release cams. Hook ends should not be damaged or deformed.

Web ratchet assemblies should show no deformation. Any anchor bolts should extend through their lock nuts by at least 1-1/2 threads. If equipped for cotter pins, the pins should be present and bent 180 degrees apart.

Inspect webbing to ensure there are no deep cuts or burns, and that wear and abrasion are minimal. Webbing ends should be seared at free ends to prevent fraying. Hooks should not show damage or excessive wear.

Chains and hook throats

Along with webbing, chains are frequently used to secure platform loads. Inspection should assure that no links are stretched. Hooks' throat openings should not be bent or deformed, either by wear or damage. If any problems are found, remove chains from service. Do not attempt to repair them.

Chain binders should have hooks, hook eyes, end swivels, links, handles, and frames checked. Th roat openings should not be bent or deformed. As with chains, never attempt to straighten anything on a binder. Replace it instead.

Although not as frequently used as webs and chains, wire ropes have their own inspection criteria, usually covering broken strands. Six broken strands per lay (one full turn of a strand around the core) or three broken wires in the same strand are enough to take the rope out of service. Discard wire rope with a broken core or a severe kink.

Spray serviceable wire ropes with a quality cable spray to eliminate internal friction and lubricate the core. A 50/50 mix of SAE 30 non-detergent oil and kerosene can be brushed on and allowed to drip clean as an alternative to spraying.

Like wire rope, check synthetic rope for cuts, abrasion, and broken strands. Once checked for damage, ensure all cargo securement devices are operable.

A Ready-mix Perspective

Precast produces are not the only ones that must transport large loads across the streets and highways.

When a new job is started and a plant must be set up, it can take more than a dozen flatbed trailer loads to move silos, plants, loaders, generators, and other equipment.

No one knows what this entails better than Mike Cook, fleet manager of A&A Ready Mix, of Newport Beach, Calif., parent of Associated Ready Mixed Concrete Inc. Cook's fleet includes more than 600 power units, 72% of which are off-road mobile equipment. There are also 400 additional pieces of equipment that occasionally must be transported.

"Some fleets subcontract moving their equipment to specialized heavy haulers, but we do most of our own," Cook days.

In addition to ready-mix trucks, the A&A fleet includes lowboys, flatbeds, beaver tails, tiltbeds and bulk material haulers for gravel, sand, and bulk cement. "We have designated drivers, specially trained for heavy haul," Cook says. They must have class A commercial driver's licenses. Ready-mix truck operators can get by with class B licenses. "We always hire transporter drivers with previous experience hauling equipment," he says.

Training is critical to maintaining a good safety record. A&A holds monthly safety meetings, which include all drivers, field employees, vehicle mechanics, and field maintenance personnel. For more on the producer, visit

Cargo Securement Training

Those who wishes to learn more about securing their loads can do so in the comfort of their own offices or homes.

The "Cargo Securement FLATBEDS" training program teaches how to keep flatbed loads in place and in compliance with Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 392.9 and Part 393, Subpart I. The program goes beyond the minimum requirements by including best practices and how-to information to ensure the proper and safe securement of cargo. It also underscores the impact of cargo securement violations on both the individual driver and the carrier.

In DVD format, the program covers correct tiedown use, rub rail issues, headerboards, and other aspects of proper cargo securement. It also includes a special segment on transporting concrete pipe.

The closed-captioned video includes a main program, hazard perception challenge scenarios, a 10-question quiz, and a note to trainers. It uses state-of-the-art techniques to demonstrate proper load securement, plus situational scenarios to increase drivers' comprehension.

"This training really conveys the responsibility that drivers have for protecting their cargo, their vehicles, the public, and their own personal safety throughout the transportation process, from pre-trip right up to the point of delivery," says Daren Hansen, senior editor-transportation, at J.J. Keller & Associates Inc., which developed the program.

The "Cargo Securement FLATBEDS" training program costs $365. For more information, visit