Pulling Trailers Safely
Whenever an employee jumps into a company pickup to hook onto a trailer, the employee might use his basic understanding of the truck’s power to determine if the truck will pull the trailer. The trouble is that the truck might pull the trailer, but the hitch might not do the job safely.
When there is a hitch attached to the truck, the assumption might be that the hitch would be heavy duty enough to allow pulling the maximum weight for the power and series of truck. A company needs to be sure that every truck’s hitch components—receiver, insert and ball—are consistent for pulling a known weight, and employees need to know the pull weight to keep from attaching too heavy of a load to the truck.
The other big concern has to be how heavy duty is the trailer. Has it been built so that it can handle a reasonable load? The weight of the trailer takes away from the amount of goods that can be loaded onto it. Low strength components used to manufacture a trailer limits its hauling capacity quite drastically.
“When you order a new truck and you know you want an F350, or any other brand, you also know you want it to pull x amount, you don’t just buy any F350,” said Fred Whitford, Ph.D., Purdue University pesticide programs, during his presentation at the National Agronomic Environmental Health and Safety School last summer.
Whitford and others authored the large-format 84-page booklet, “Keep the Trailer Connected to the Truck,” which can be downloaded here. It is also available from the university in high-gloss color bound editions.
Whitford went on to explain that the first requirement is to make sure and order a truck with the hitch receiver factory installed that closely matches the maximum pulling specifications for your needs—paying more for the heavier duty hitch receiver can be a fairly expensive upgrade. A standard hitch receiver will usually not match the maximum pulling power of the truck.
Not ordering with a heavier duty receiver is the big mistake that cannot be cleared up after leaving the factory. The receiver is the number one consideration. And underneath the truck on the hitch receiver is a tag that lists the carry weight, which is the maximum pull weight.
INSERT AND BALL RATING
Inserts that go into the receiver also have ratings. Whitford said there are various insert ratings, just like the receiver maximums.
He then quizzed the audience of agricultural retailer safety coordinators about the maximum pull potential. He asked if a truck can pull 9,000 pounds, the receiver hitch is tagged at a rating of 7,500 pounds and the insert is rated at 10,000 pounds, how much weight can safely be pulled? The answer is 7,500 pounds or the lowest rated segment of the pulling system.