Two new safety booklets directed at ag retailer operations and farm operators have been published by Purdue Extension; the booklets are Securing the Load: A Guide to Safe and Legal Transportation of Cargo and Equipment and Poly Tanks for Farms and Businesses: Preventing Catastrophic Failures.

The lead author is Fred Whitford, Purdue Extension, pesticides programs coordinator, who does safety and environmental audits in Indiana.

"Ideas for publications come from the Extension visits that I complete, and questions raised by individuals while I am on a site. I see things that don't look right, or I'm asked questions about things," Whitford said.

The Extension specialist investigates old and new topics for answers to questions, and he discovers answers have been incorrectly assumed in some cases. "These are old issues but no one had written about them, and the answers were assumed," he explained. These two brochures provide research-based answers. He interviews professionals in diverse areas of agricultural expertise and gives them co-author recognition.

The Securing the Load information is a prime example of the need for an information resource. There have been different materials and methods that employees have assumed are okay or common sense ways to secure loads, and the assumed answers aren't really the right answers.
Additionally, step-by-step written procedures are few and far between from manufacturers or industrial insurance groups, especially for what might be classified as simple procedures that are often ignored.

Injury and Death Concerns
In both brochures, Whitford discusses the liabilities and results of accidents. Improper securing of a load has the biggest potential for personal injury or death while poly tank failure more often has high-cost environmental consequences.

Injuries and deaths are more common than most people might think from improperly secured loads, according to Whitford.
"When it comes to safety, we tend to focus on the wrong things. It is not from drift and pesticides that we need protected as much as what is on the truck that will come off the truck when improperly secured," he said.

Chapters of the Securing the Load booklet include, "Common Methods of Cargo Securement; Working Load Limit: The Available Strength of Tie-Down Assemblies; Load Securement Regulations; Loading the Truck and Trailer: Before the Tie-Downs Are Applied; and Using, Inspecting and Maintaining Tie-Downs." Whole sections are devoted to five major regulation questions: "How many tie-downs are required?, How should the tie-downs be spaced along the cargo?, How is the working load limit applied?, Are there special rules for transporting heavy machinery? and What is prohibited?"

Securing the Load begins with using the right tie-down materials-chains, wire ropes and webbing. There is considerable discussion of the working load limit (WLL) and identifying the WLL on any tie-down assemblies and materials. Additionally, inspection of all these materials is stressed, too.

"Think about the role that binders, anchor points and hooks play in securing the load to the truck or trailer. It is important to understand that the WLL of a chain assembly is based on its weakest component," Whitford wrote.

Reminders of procedures that ag retailer employees must remember to follow each and every time they tie-down a load is more important than many employers might realize, Whitford said. Even after studying the booklet, employees might forget an important point; therefore, Whitford also developed a poster to hang in company shops. The poster is a constant reminder of key points from the booklet.

Poly Tanks Lifespans
Poly Tanks for Farms and Businesses begins with what is more appropriate for farmers and their employees but progresses into much more specific information for ag retailers.

"While the benefits of poly tanks are many, there is a potentially serious drawback: at some point they will fail. No product is designed to last forever. A poly tank's useful life depends on a number of factors, the quality and amount of poly material used to manufacturer it, the materials stored in it and whether its specific use is storage or transport," Whitford wrote.

A major consideration is a polyethylene tank's susceptibility to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and how it degrades a tank even with polymer compounds that are supposed to slow degradation. But UV radiation is not the only factor for older tanks to lose structural soundness.

Considerable attention in the booklet is on specific gravity ratings. "Higher specific gravity ratings indicate a greater ability to withstand hydrostatic stresses caused by a stored liquid," it is explained in the brochure. A specific gravity rating minimum of 1.5 is required for liquid fertilizer handling for example.

Proper tie-down and installation of horizontal tanks and the baffling of tanks for use on trucks and trailers is highlighted, too.

Probably the most important section to keep "a catastrophic failure" from happening is the section to identify by various special inspection procedures any problems from "scratches, crazing and cracking."

"Like any piece of equipment, poly tanks need to be inspected and maintained to ensure that the benefits of use outweigh the risk of tank failure and product release," the brochure notes.

Both of the booklets outlined are available to view online by clicking here. To access the Poly Tanks for Farms and Businesses brochure, click here. To access the Securing the Load brochure, click here. One to hundreds of the brochures can be ordered by telephone at 1-888-EXT-INFO.