How to Secure a Barrel in a Truck Bed

by John White
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Oil Drums image by Yali Shi from

Transporting barrels or a 55-gallon drum in an open truck bed requires some preparation and safety knowledge before you "load and go." There are considerations that must be taken into account, like the contents of the barrel or even the construction of the barrel. Regardless of the circumstances, safety is the most important factor for you and the other motorists you encounter on your journey.

Step 1

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Consider first what your barrel contains. If your container is empty but previously held any kind of hazardous substance or waste, it must be considered full for transportation purposes. In this case it will have to be placarded for identification. Federal law is strict in this concern. If you are found to be transporting hazardous substances improperly you may be subject to federal and state penalty, which can include a fine or imprisonment.

Step 2

Once you have identified and labeled your container properly, the weight of your container must be considered. By volume, a full 55-gallon drum can weigh 385 lbs. or more. Because of weight concerns, containers should be secured from front to rear and never the reverse.

Step 3

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If your truck is equipped with securing bolts or squared receivers you can use the hook ends of a ratchet-strap to secure the barrel. You can never secure the container too much. You should also secure the bottom of the drum, but the top is most important as to prevent tipping and spillage of contents. Remember that because of inertia the binding you use to secure the container must be able to sustain more tensile strength than would be necessary merely for the weight of the container.

Step 4

Benign materials need no special marking, although the securing mechanisms should still be adhered to. If your barrel is carrying benign material the rules governing transportation are less stringent, but you should verify regulatory statutes with local agencies before assuming it is OK to transport.

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