I am a Mechanical Engineering Student also interested in entrepreneurship. I'm posting today looking to get input from flatbed drivers as a kind of market research.
A little while back I was chatting with a friend, who's a trucker, about business ideas. He mentioned to me that he would like to see a ladder that attaches to your rub rails for getting on and off of tall loads. As you know, there are a lot of accidents involving falls from the tops of loads. My dad knows some examples and I've read about a few here on the forum already. Seems like a great opportunity, especially to sell to companies, since paying for ladders is certainly cheaper than having guys get hurt. Come to find out, there are definitely things like this already out there but I'm not sure why they don't seem to be standard issue in the industry.
From what I can tell, tarping seems to be one of the worst, if not the worst, part of the job. This would be especially true when the weather gets nasty. It also seems tarping is one of the only reasons you'd need to get on the load. I also realize that not everywhere do you have to get on your load to tarp and sometimes you aren't even allowed to do so, or you have some sort of safety rigging on you. However, certainly, there are some unforeseen problems on the road that require you to get up top to fix.
I talked to my uncle who used to drive about this too and he didn't think there was anything good about the ladder idea. He just said everyone keeps a regular extendable ladder in their truck. If that's true, there are still some disadvantages to these I think, especially on uneven ground.
I assume many people have thought about all of this before, and many innovations have been tried, so I'm a little curious as to why some of these problems still exist.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I'd appreciate any kind of relevant input/experience. Hopefully, I made sense.
Need your experience - Ladders, Tarping, General Safety
The problem is not getting on top of the load,the problem is not falling off once the driver is up there.
Unless u can invent a ladder that catches the driver before hitting the ground,your idea is useless
I have a ladder that attaches to the rub rail, but I never use it. I am 6’5” so it is no biggie for me to just hop onto the deck, or climb up the steps on the catwalk.
And I don’t tarp anything, but I do climb onto the deck all the time, as I haul a lot of oddball stuff that often requires you to climb up to manipulate the straps just so.
Yes I have fallen off the deck more than once, but it’s usually because I am just in a hurry and being careless.
As mentioned by previous poster, the problem is keeping the driver from falling once he is up there, and the only way to do that would be wearing a harness, then I guess you could hook the lanyard to the rub rail on the opposite side. But honestly, even if I had a rig like that, I wouldn’t bother going through all that trouble.
Just gotta remember to slow down and take your time, get help when you can, etc.
Friends of mine joke about the ‘magic tarp gun’ that scans the load and then applies tarps.
Maybe in 2075?
As said - no real easy way. My best ones involve an overhead crane to ‘drape’ tarps, then secures from the side.
Overhead ‘catch harness’ systems are best for preventing fall injury, but are location based.
Rub rail ladders are fine, but another item to store, and can’t help a lot over 5-6 feet.
However - put your mind to the problem and see what you can figure out.
Forklift. Throw a couple bucks to a forklift driver and drape your tarp correctly over his forks. Put a long bungee on the corners. He lifts the middle up and over the load, and you use the bungees to pull the ends over. Done correctly, the tarp will fall and cover the load like a waterfall. And you never had to leave the ground.
For the bigger tarp loads, the shipper will have people assigned to help you tarp the load. Well, usually.
I guess "a better moustrap", or ladder in this case, is not the solution. It seems to me more now that the problem is not getting up on top, but tarping itself.
The problem is STORAGE.
The PVC would be 16-20 ft long. And then there’s the winch and cables. Most of us are already packed to the gills with gear.