Landscaper’s Beware: Is Your Trailer At Risk For A Wreck?
Landscapers provide a wide variety of services. Their businesses might include everything from design through construction and maintenance. Soil preparation and grading; tree, shrub and grass planting; installing and cleaning out irrigation systems; and dealing with retaining walls, patios and pathways, are just a few of the challenges landscapers encounter on a daily basis.
In addition, landscape maintenance may also be a component of a landscape professional’s service offering. Because there is a great deal of equipment, soil, and other materials to haul around during the course of a work day, most landscapers use trailers to handle the load. But at times, a landscape trailer can lead to trouble.
For landscape businesses, safety is far too important to ignore. During the course of their work, landscapers are responsible for the health, safety and welfare of those around them. This includes the times they’re driving to and from job sites hauling a trailer of equipment behind them.
The consequences of an accident caused by an improperly loaded or maintained trailer can be extreme. One Charlotte car accident lawyer firm informs that unreasonable carelessness can be considered negligence. If a landscape professional or his crew loads their trailer wrong, hitches it up incorrectly, or uses defective equipment, and this results in an auto accident, it can open up the possibility of a personal injury or wrongful death suit brought against the landscaper.
As with any physically demanding work, landscapers face a number of hazards. Some are inherent in hauling a great deal of equipment around.
Due to the complexities involved, trailers pose a major risk for accidents. One of these factors concerns the general condition of the trailer. While it may seem financially prudent to buy after-market hauling equipment, care should be taken to ensure that such equipment is suitable for the work it is intended for.
Make sure the trailer bed is in good condition, with no rotted or displaced boards, and all side panels are sturdy and secure. Check tire inflation periodically, and replace tires when tread wears below recommended levels.
Avoiding accidents starts with properly connecting the trailer to the towing vehicle. One of the most important elements of attaching a trailer is how the hitch is connected. Most landscape trailer hitches are of the “bumper pull” variety. These hitches come in various sizes and types, and are designated in classes I through V, according to their ball size and how much weight they can handle. A hitch must be able to properly tow the weight of the trailer being used, plus the equipment on the trailer.
The trailer hitch must handle weight distribution and sway control adequately. There are a number of devices that may be used to accomplish this, but it’s important to have a professional install them. Inadequate installation today may lead to an accident tomorrow.
The way that a trailer is loaded is essential for safety. Approximately 60 percent of cargo weight should be placed at the front half of the trailer. Loading too much in the back can cause tow vehicles and trailers to whip around in an uncontrollable sway.
Also, you should consider the towing vehicle, and never overload it or exceed the maximum gross weight the vehicle is rated to tow. Use the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and Gross Axle Weight Ratings (GAWR) posted on the driver inside door as your guide, and stay below these weights.
Safely loading landscaping equipment on the trailer is an essential task. Improperly secured mowers, weeders, blowers and supplies could shift, causing the trailer to swerve into oncoming traffic, or even tip the trailer. And loose equipment has a nasty tendency to fall off trailers and onto adjacent vehicles.
Safe loading must be practiced after every job. To begin with, make sure the trailer is out of traffic, and the wheels are chocked. Use straps, chains or Bungee type stretchable cords to properly fasten gardening and construction equipment, gasoline storage tanks, and supplies like fertilizer and mulch, to sturdy trailer tie points.
Heavy equipment such as zero-radius mowers should only be loaded using a ramp, and positioned and fastened securely at the end of the trailer closest to the tow vehicle. Smaller, loose equipment like shovels and rakes are best stored handles down in special holders made from PVC pipe mounted vertically on the inside or corners of the trailer panels.
Landscaping trailers should be checked over with regularity to ensure that they are suitable for road use. For instance, before every run, all connections (hitch, chains and lights) should be secure, checked for wear, and any deficiencies corrected. Equipment that is in disrepair should never be used. Using a trailer with damaged or defective couplings may cause a truck/automobile accident that produces lifelong injury, medical expenses and loss of income, as well as loss of life for the landscaper and others.
Safety begins with the proper equipment. Properly selected and maintained, a trailer can be a safe and valuable asset that lasts until the business outgrows it. But the other side of the safety coin is the quality of training provided the staff operating the trailer, and the emphasis on safety that only the business owner can instill in his company culture. Neglecting safety training is a surefire way to increase accidents.
Having an uncle in the landscaping business gives Nadine Swayne the insight and know-how to properly load a landscape trailer to avoid accidents. Her research included the website of Charlotte car accident lawyer group Auger & Auger Attorneys at Law, who recognize that each accident case is different and are dedicated to providing quality representation to clients based on their unique circumstances.
Photo credit #1: http://www.flickr.com/photos/amslerpix/9904782924/