Proper loading and unloading of your dump trailer will play an important role in how well your trailer works for you, as well as the longevity of your trailer and – most importantly – your safety. The plain truth is that improper trailer loading has caused many accidents, injuries and deaths.
To properly load a trailer you must consider: the overall load weight, load weight distribution, proper tongue weight, and how well the load is secured. With these things in mind, here are 5 helpful tips for loading and unloading your dump trailer:
Park the Tow Vehicle and Trailer on a Firm and Level Surface While Loading
It may seem like this is not always possible, but it is worth taking the time to do it as well as you can. Attempting to load on a soft or uneven surface may cause the trailer to overturn, which can be extremely dangerous for both you and your trailer. Uneven surfaces can also make it very difficult to properly distribute the weight of your load. Too much load in the front portion will strain and possibly overload the hydraulic hoist. Too much load in the rear can make the trailer sway at highway speeds.
Keep the Center of Gravity as Low as Possible
Load heavy items on the floor and over the axles. Additional items should be loaded in an effort to maintain and even side-to-side weight distribution and proper tongue weight. Remember that the trailer axles carry most of the weight of the trailer and its contents, and the remainder of the total weight is carried by the tow vehicle hitch.
Use Stabilizers or Blocking When Rear Loading Equipment
Dump trailers can be a great way to move equipment like skid-steer loaders or mowers from one site to another. It is important to stabilize the rear of your trailer, though, when loading heavy equipment like this. Some trailers come equipped with rear stabilizers. If you have them, use them. If not, you can place blocks under the rear of your trailers so the weight of the cargo does not raise the front of the trailer during loading.
Only Load Material That is Intended to be Dumped
Yes, dump trailers are for dumping. You should use them to haul things that are meant to be dumped on the other end. You may find an exception if your trailer has drop sides for side-loading bulk items like palletized materials, but you should never haul livestock or people. You are putting their lives at risk, and transporting people in a trailer is also illegal. You should also never transport containers of hazardous substances or flammable liquids. Not only is this dangerous because of the substances, but it can be very difficult to maintain a safe weight distribution while moving with containers of liquid.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings When Unloading
When unloading your dump trailer, you also want to be sure your tow vehicle and trailer are on a firm, level surface for the same reasons stated above. You will also want to clear the area around the dump trailer before unloading. Be sure to place yourself in a safe location clear of the dump body while operating the dump controller. Before raising the dump body, check for overhead power lines and other obstructions. Also make sure your rear doors are open and secured with door hold backs before raising the bed.
This is just a small list of things to keep in mind when operating your dump trailer. There are many other things you will want to do to ensure safe and long-lasting use from your trailer. Like any other tool, a dump trailer can be extremely beneficial when used properly, and extremely dangerous when used improperly.