Growing Safely - Loading and Unloading Trailer Safety

Carefully loading and unloading your trailer is critical to your safety and the safety of those sharing the road with you. This informational sheet, along with the Growing Safely Loading and Unloading video on the Monsanto Off-the-Job Safety YouTube Channel, will help you prevent serious or fatal injuries.

tractor loading areaPRE-LOADING REMINDERS:

  • “Know What You Tow” – Confirm that the load weight is within the GVWR of the trailer, GVWR of the truck, and the GCWR of the truck and trailer
  • Position the truck and trailer on a flat level surface
  • Set the parking brake
  • Chock the trailer tires
  • Utilize a jack stand if the trailer does not have loading ramps that support the back of the trailer when the ramp is lowered into place
  • Identify the proper placement of the load so that you do not overload the axles, the GVWR of the truck, or GVWR of the trailer, and mark the trailer to indicate this placement
  • If the truck/trailer begins to move, do not attempt to stop it from rolling if doing so poses any risk to you or others
  • For trailers equipped with them, set cab electric brakes
  • Make sure the trailer is secured to the vehicle and that safety chains are securely connected
  • If there is a break-away cable, make sure it is connected directly to the truck and trailer so it will disconnect and engage the brakes if the two become separated while loading/unloading


  • Brakes and brake connections
  • Parking brake
  • Steering mechanism
  • Lights and reflectors
  • Tires
  • Horn
  • Windshield Wipers
  • Rear view mirrors
  • Coupling devices
  • Wheels and rims
  • Emergency Equipment
  • Health card – check to make sure not expired
  • Drivers License
  • Log book and/or Time sheet


  • Brakes and brake connections
  • Lights and reflectors
  • Tires
  • Wheels and rims
  • Condition of Binders
  • Ramps stored and secure
  • Wheel Chocks
  • Condition of tie-down straps and/or chains


  • tractor loaded with hay balesAlways load on a flat level surface
  • Emergency brakes applied (trailer too if equipped)
  • Chock the tires to prevent rolling (it’s best to chock the last axle). If there are multiple axles on the trailer, chock the last axle
  • If observing stay away from the vehicle, and do not approach the loaded trailer until the implement is in park with the brakes locked.
  • If the vehicle or implement rolls or shifts while loading … DO NOT PUT YOURSELF IN DANGER.
  • Trucks, trailers and equipment can all be replaced … you cannot.


  • Make sure any chains or hooks used to secure the cargo are Grade 70 or higher.
  • Use tie downs that are at least 50% of the WLL. (Nylon straps have a WLL of 1000 pounds to every inch wide.)
  • Use the correct binders and always secure in an A pull.
  • When securing pallets, cover the top bags of a pallet by using a bag protector or an empty pallet to keep the straps from bulging or cutting into the bags.
  • Position cargo securing devices inside the stake pockets/rub rails.
  • Continue actions to secure the cargo until the cargo cannot shift, blow, or fall off the vehicle. Only then is it secure.

Check for anything that could fall off the trailer! You are responsible for all of your load!
Rocks, Mud, Wooden Blocks


  • Inspect all tie-down straps, chains, and binders
  • Make sure load is balanced
  • Need 1 binder at each corner of equipment
  • Create an “A”-shaped pull rather than “V”-shaped


  • Cargo under 5 feet in length or under 1,100 pounds needs at least one tie-down
  • Articles of cargo over this length or weight need to be a minimum of 2 per 10 feet increment
  • Minimum of 2 per 10 feet if the rating is at least 50 percent of the weight load limit (WLL). THIS IS THE MINIMUM!
  • The right answer is until it doesn’t shift, slide or move.


  • Turn on hazard flashers
  • One triangle – traffic side, 10 feet from stopped vehicle in direction oncoming traffic
  • Second triangle – in center of occupied traffic lane or shoulder, 100 feet in direction of oncoming traffic
  • Third triangle – in center of occupied traffic lane or shoulder, 100 feet in direction away from traffic

You can also check out the Growing Safely Unloading and Loading Trailer Safety video on the Monsanto Off-the-Job Safety YouTube Channel or watch the embedded video below.

The Growing Safely video series is sponsored by Monsanto Company. Monsanto is committed to the safety of its customers, employees, and those in the communities where we live and work.

growing safely icon monsanto icon

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More