Tough Tarping- A Joey Slaughter Blog

Contributing author Joey Slaughter is the owner of Blue Ridge Transport, LLC. A Ringgold, VA based carrier. Joey started his company in 2010 after serving time as an unhappy employee with a local trucking company. The time spent there was not fun but, in hindsight, was a turning point that propelled Joey into the wonderful world of being an entrepreneur. Please visit for more insightful blogging.

You never really know the challenges of each load until you arrive at the shipper.  Brokers are intentionally vague when negotiating rates so they can have the upper hand.  I experienced a good example of this last week as I arrived at the shipper to find a very difficult and dangerous load that had to be tarped.

Sure, the broker told me that it was machinery that needed tarping.  No problem, I thought.  I’m sure it’s crated and this will be reasonably easy since everything will be square.  Boy was I wrong.  I shouldn’t have assumed…. We all know what happens when you assume.

The machinery was all uncrated and manufactured with delicate electronics.  I’m pretty sure it should’ve been crated, but everyone’s cutting costs (corners) these days and I’d just have to pick up the slack.  Once everything was loaded and secured, I really saw how challenging this would be to not only tarp, but to do it safely.  The sharp edges of the freight had been bubble wrapped and the shipper agreed to lift up the 100lb tarps on top of the freight, so that made my job a little easier.

The shipper assured me that he would’ve loved to help me tarp this machinery, but his company wouldn’t let him.  They didn’t want him to get hurt…  Wow!  What about me???  I took my time and made small movements; always protecting my back that had surgery 7 months ago.  Finally, after a lot of effort, I was finished.

“No load is worth a life.”  We often hear that statement as related to truck crashes on the highway.  However, it also applies to securing a load on a shipper’s parking lot.  I’ve heard of truckers falling from carhaulers and flatbeds and getting killed.  I personally know someone who broke their neck after falling off a load of lumber that he was tarping.  I think of him when I’m doing something potentially dangerous as a reminder to be careful.   If there’s no safe way to do a job and serious injury or death is imminent; you must stop immediately.  Get others involved and determine a safe way to complete the task.