Mercer folks, I apologize for not being able to write every day and to respond to some of the great comments and thoughts I’ve seen on the various posts. I appreciate everyone’s input and do read them all. We’ve got folks that really think things out and I value that. My schedule does get kind of crazy sometimes and I can’t talk to everyone. Fortunately, the Mercer Family is a large one. Unfortunately, that means that there is always a lot going on and there aren’t enough hours in the day. It is important, however, that everybody understand CSA and keep it in mind every trip. It is a game changer and it requires greater attention to detail from everyone. As you know, everything counts: tickets, warnings, out of service violations and non-out of service violations. Everything.

By the way, I don’t think I mentioned what BASIC stands for. Here it is, “Behavior Analysis Safety Improvement Category.” Wow, can’t government come up with some catchy names? That’s your tax dollars at work. Let’s talk about cargo.

Cargo includes the securement of items being transported. Simple stuff. It includes having the correct paperwork for the load. Hazardous material placarding, paperwork and placement is also included in the Cargo BASIC. If you operate an open deck trailer, you are expected to master cargo securement. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations have specific rules concerning cargo securement. There are no shortcuts. You’ve got to read, and know, the regulations. They start at 393.100 and go through 393.136. Be sure you read the definitions in 393.5, as well. Van people also need to know this stuff.

Usually, when violations occur, it is due to laziness on the part of the driver. Let me repeat that, boys and girls: Usually, when violations occur, it is due to laziness on the part of the driver. I call ’em like I see ’em, guys and that is what I see most of the time. There are things like cut straps, not enough securement for the cargo length, putting one strap on pallets that need two straps, not checking load securement and letting chains or straps get loose, not putting edge protection on straps, using straps instead of chains or chains instead of straps, not having enough working load limit securement for the weight of the cargo. Observable defects. If the officer sees it, it goes on the report and scores the driver, and Mercer, 27-30 points. Improper cargo securement is a big deal under CSA, and it should be. If the load falls off, bad things happen.

The same thing is true about Hazmat. Most of our problems come from having torn placards or having a placard blow off. Are you kidding me? Who lets that happen? I saw one writeup where the driver was being inspected with a hazmat load and was written up for smoking. Really? This is the stuff that isn’t about how evil CSA is. It is just dumb (that’s a trucking term, it means, “DUMB”). I hear a lot of comments about CSA putting people out of business. And yes, I think everyone will tell you that there are problems with CSA, including the FMCSA. But proper cargo securement has been a requirement in this industry long before CSA. If you do not secure cargo properly, you’ll put yourself out of business. CSA just makes it happen quicker.

Good cargo securement is one part knowledge of the regulations, one part experience, and a big dose of common sense. But you’ve got to have all three to get it right. There are no shortcuts in securing your freight. Take the time to do it right. Ask if you’re not sure. This is important stuff. Be safe.