Construction materials might not look like much on the back of a truck, but once in the hands of skilled workers, dull lengths of lumber or sheets of drywall can quickly become a beautiful complete structure. However, before this process begins, it’s up to commercial drivers to deliver these materials safely.
Moving bulky, heavy construction materials is essential work that requires certain preparation. To keep everyone safe, from your crew to other drivers on the road, Commercial Truck Trader has five tips for safely transporting construction materials to and from the jobsite.
1. Have a Plan in Place
Before you hit the road with these construction materials, put a plan in place to determine the transportation process from start to finish. Trying to take things as they come or make it up as you go will lead to mistakes and could even result in more severe injuries.
Set up a comprehensive logistics plan for how you will handle this material transport before you start loading up the first truck. Everyone should be aware of the schedule, the itinerary, and their responsibilities so everything runs smoothly the first time around.
2. Use the Right Type of Vehicle
Choosing the correct type of transportation vehicle for a load of construction materials might seem straightforward, but there are several criteria you’ll need to consider before making your choice.
A flatbed truck is sufficient for lumber, drywall, or roofing materials but wouldn’t work for mixed cement. The latter needs to be kept in constant motion, and pouring cement onto a flatbed truck will make a mess. Trailers are convenient but may lack the hauling capacity necessary to carry your supplies safely.
In general, you’ll need to use one of three types of trucks: a dry van, a flat deck, or a super-b. However, there may be instances where specific materials are too large or oddly shaped for these vehicles. These oversized loads will require additional permits and specialized transport.
3. Understand Hauling Capacities
Another essential variable to consider is the hauling capacity of your vehicles, both in size and weight. Overloading a truck increases the risk of it breaking down mid-transit. Stuffing it to the brim, with items sticking out the sides, can make driving dangerous for you and others on the road.
Federal law prohibits a gross vehicle weight exceeding 80,000 pounds on the interstate, or more than 20,000 pounds on a single axle. Be sure to learn the maximum shipping capacity for your trucks and take special care not to exceed that limit. It sounds simple, but when you’re trying to move as many supplies in as few trips as possible, the temptation to overload the trucks is there.
4. Secure All Materials
Flatbed trucks are incredibly convenient for loading and unloading construction supplies, but if the load isn’t properly secured, an unexpected hard brake or weather event could send your supplies all over the highway. Most states require any loads that exceed 10,000 pounds have a minimum of four tie-down points.
Take the time to make sure your supplies are secure before the driver pulls away from the loading dock. In addition to being inconvenient, losing a load of construction supplies on the highway could be dangerous or even deadly for other drivers on the road.
5. Use Lift-Assist Tools
Construction materials are heavy. Bringing in enough shingles to cover the roof of a three-bedroom house can weigh up to three tons. You can’t expect people to try to offload these materials by hand, at least not in bulk. Use proper lift-assist tools such as cranes, forklifts, and other equipment to move heavy or palletized construction materials.
When things aren’t moving in bulk, ensure that everyone uses proper lifting techniques to prevent injuries. Provide back braces for anyone who may need or want them to help protect their spinal health. Read our previous article to learn more about loading dock safety hazards to avoid.
The construction industry as a whole tends to operate on tight margins and short deadlines, but that is no excuse for compromising the safety of your commercial drivers. Whether you’re transporting materials to build a house or skyscraper, you can still stay safe while getting the job done by following these tips and taking all the necessary precautions.
About the Author:
Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated, a construction and real estate resource. Her work on construction and equipment maintenance has been published by Facility Executive, Training Journal, and other industry publications