Guest Column | May 23, 2022

7 Cargo Securement Myths We Need To Debunk

By Emily Newton, Revolutionized

7 Seven

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized. She regularly explores the impact technology has on the industrial sector.

Whether you are a rookie or a veteran in the trucking industry, you have probably come across some common cargo securement myths. Every industry has facts or practices that many believe to be legitimate, only to find out that they’re just myths that cropped up over the years.

Most cargo securement myths are based on real industry standards and regulations, while others come from outdated or incorrect information. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to be aware of the most common load securement myths that need to be debunked.

1. Gear From Big Box Retailers Is Always Heavy Duty

When you need a tool or a piece of hardware in a pinch, stores like Home Depot or Lowes can seem like convenient, reliable options. Unfortunately, not all gear sold at big box stores is actually up to the standards needed in trucking.

This cargo securement myth stems from the assumption that big box stores source only from the best suppliers, with professionals in mind. Certainly, there is hardware sold in these stores that will absolutely fill the needs of trucking professionals – sometimes. However, it is not always the case.

So, your best bet when you need load securement gear is to get it directly from a cargo or trucking company, retailer, or supplier. It might not be as convenient as swinging by the nearest hardware store, but you’ll be able to rest assured that you have the best quality gear to get your load where it needs to go.

2. The DOT Has To Approve Load Securement Strap Assemblies

It seems logical that the Department of Transportation would have to approve load securement strap assemblies. In fact, it’s common to come across the phrase “DOT approved” alongside load securement gear now and then. However, this is a cargo securement myth. The DOT doesn’t actually approve strap assemblies.

This is true in both the U.S. and Canada. While both nations have regulations and requirements for how cargo needs to be secured, neither is awarding official “DOT approved” status to any particular strap assemblies. If you see this on tags or packaging, it’s purely for marketing purposes and not a legitimate endorsement from the DOT.

Of course, as autonomous trucking becomes more prevalent in the years to come, the DOT may get more involved in approving and regulating strap assemblies.

3. The Trucking Company Is Solely Responsible For Load Securement

When something goes wrong with a load securement assembly, it can be easy to pin the blame on the trucking company. After all, they secured the gear, so isn’t it their responsibility to do a good job? Yes, but once the truck is on the road, the driver takes on some of that responsibility. Info about load securement can be extremely helpful on the road in a tight spot. One driver, for example, described her experience dealing with a loose block on a lowbed haul, which required a creative solution to secure.

This cargo securement myth must navigate a gray area on the road. For example, some types of cargo, such as hazardous materials, come with specific instructions for the driver not to tamper with the cargo in any way. Most of the time, drivers can get their load from point A to point B without anything going south.

However, if something does come loose or a strap tears or some other malfunction occurs, it is up to the driver to make sure they do a good job of fixing the cargo securement system. Having a basic familiarity with trailer maintenance procedures and cargo securement is important for ensuring you can handle these situations wisely on the road.

4. Webbing Straps Need Stenciled Load Limits On Them

It’s common for trucking professionals to assume they need a working load limit stenciled onto their straps. This is a harmless extra safety detail, but it isn’t actually required. The only place WLL needs to be detailed is on the tags on straps.

Having the WLL stenciled onto straps doesn’t change how effective they are, but you should be aware that the only official WLL will be on the tag. Always check the tag, even if there is a WLL stenciled onto your straps. If they don’t match and someone stenciled an incorrect WLL onto the straps, you don’t want to be using the wrong cargo securement equipment for the job.

5. Only Hardware With WLL Stamped On Is Legal

One important technical load securement myth is that hardware must have a WLL stamped on it to be legal to use. This is not actually true, but it also doesn’t mean that you can simply use whatever load securement hardware you want.

The reason a stamped-on WLL is not required for hardware is that a pull test of a hardware piece within an actual assembly is the only way to get an accurate WLL. So, you may have a different WLL for a certain piece of hardware from one assembly to another just based on how it is used. A stamped-on WLL won’t necessarily correspond to your assembly’s WLL.

6. Drivers Have To Sign Off On Loads

When you’re about to get on the road with a haul and you’re asked to sign off on your load, it might seem like it’s just a formality. However, some trucking professionals aren’t aware that they don’t have to sign off on a load if they feel the load securement system is unsafe. As mentioned above, cargo securement becomes the driver’s responsibility once they’re on the road, so it is important to recognize any potential problems before signing off.

If you do spot something that looks amiss in the load securement system, you can always call your trucking company to get guidance on how to proceed. For example, maybe you see that one of the straps looks heavily damaged, suggesting that it might pose a risk of tearing while you’re on the road.

7. CHP Rating For Strap Assemblies Still Exists

This is a particularly interesting load securement myth because it’s a ghost of a real rating system that used to exist. The California Highway Patrol once had a rating system for cargo securement straps, with different ratings for different weight classes. However, load securement companies record removing these ratings from their strap markings as early as 2002. The CHP hasn’t had strap ratings in place for well over a decade, so this load securement myth is simply an old rating system that still lingers in the industry.

Beware of any CHP ratings you might come across, because they may conflict with more up-to-date rating systems, which was part of the reason that strap manufacturers quit including CHP markings on their products. Additionally, know that any new straps you find that are advertising a certain CHP rating may just be doing so for marketing purposes. Closely check other WLL and rating details before use.

Moving Past Cargo Securement Myths

The trucking industry is a vibrant community where many people find rewarding lifelong careers. Of course, every community has its urban legends and industry myths. Debunking these myths allows everyone in the industry, from newly minted drivers to seasoned veterans, to do their jobs free of unnecessary confusion.

Cargo securement myths are particularly important to dispel because they deal with drivers’ valuable loads and may even put lives at risk. Remember, before hitting the road, always stick to the most up-to-date, official industry standards and regulations.

About The Author

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized. She regularly explores the impact technology has on the industrial sector.