Industry participation in these meeting has been quite low over the past few years, considering how many carriers have issues with cargo securement enforcement under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's new CSA enforcement regime.
The meetings are public forums, meaning anyone can walk in off the street and participate. Those who do often see their issues resolved -- not immediately, and sometimes not to their satisfaction, but they see results.
Recently, a group representing a motor carrier safety auditing and inspection firm submitted a regulation review query to the cargo securement subcommittee regarding the use of devices other than lock-pins and twist-locks to secure intermodal containers to cargo chassis, and another regarding the use of plastic ties to secure the traditional locking mechanisms on those chassis.
It was reported that these situations were being documented as defects on roadside inspection reports, and vehicles were being placed out of service and issued citations.
Over the course of a year and two more subcommittee meetings, it was agreed that the situations described were not violations, but rather training issues for enforcement officers. The training committee is presently drafting a bulletin to reflect that decision and clarifying the use of the devices in question.
There's another regulation review currently before the committee regarding the practice of twisting cargo straps when used on large, tall loads to prevent them from flapping and fluttering in the wind -- a condition that can damage synthetic strapping.
There's wording in the defect table for synthetic webbing pointing to "loose synthetic webbing," and "tiedowns containing any fitting, tensioning device, or hardware which is broken, obviously sprung, bent, twisted, or contains visible cracks or ..." In this case, a carrier rep argued that synthetic webbing used in that manner is neither loose nor meets the definition of "twisted" (as above). In fact, a major manufacturer of synthetic strapping products suggests "putting a half twist in the strap will reduce vibration and extend the life of the fabric."
The committee agreed, and is working on appropriate wording to reflect the clarification.
Those are but two examples of how industry, with well-documented and clearly presented cases, can get things changed. With SMS Cargo BASIC scores front and center these days, it pays to be proactive.
The fall meeting of the Cargo Securement Public Forum is scheduled for November in Montreal, Quebec. For more info: www.cvsa.org/committees/cargo_securement.aspx
Read more about cargo securement and CSA in the June issue of Heavy Duty Trucking magazine.