Commercial Vehicle Operators’ Safety Manual

Module 14 - Cargo Securement


The Carrier Safety and Enforcement Branch of the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario has prepared this guide to assist and ensure that truck and bus companies (commercial vehicle operators) operate safely and are compliant with the regulations that govern highway use. Ontario, other provinces, the Government of Canada and the transportation industry developed the rules and regulations to help reduce the number and severity of collisions. Each jurisdiction has used the National Safety Code standards as guides in drafting their own transportation safety legislation. This approach promotes uniformity across Canada and helps to ensure that the transportation industry remains as viable and sustainable as possible.

This guide applies to Ontario operators of commercial motor vehicles that are:

  • Trucks, tractors, mobile equipment vehicles or trailers and/or any combination of these vehicles that have a registered gross weight or actual weight of more than 4,500 kilograms
  • Tow trucks, regardless of registered gross weight or actual weight
  • Buses with a manufactured seating capacity of 10 persons or more, excluding the driver
  • Accessible vehicles and school purposes vehicles, depending upon use

The guide contains several modules, each dealing with a specific topic. To get a complete picture of compliance requirements, you should obtain the complete guide. If you intend to use certain parts of this guide only (for example, Module 1, "Getting Started”) it is recommended that you also obtain the modules "Introduction” and "Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration.”

This is a guide only and is not meant to be a substitute for the relevant statutes and regulations. This guide highlights some important legal provisions but is not an exhaustive description of all the laws that apply.

Cargo Securement - Learning Objectives

As you work through this module, you will be able to:

  • Obtain your own copy of the National Safety Code Standard 10, Cargo Securement.
  • Understand the application of the performance criteria that all cargo-securement systems must be capable of meeting.
  • Understand the relationship between the general securement rules and those rules for specific commodities.
  • Identify commodities that have specific cargo-securement requirements, in addition to the general requirements.
  • Identify possible training sources that may help you ensure compliance to Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act and National Safety Code Standard 10.


Load-securement requirements are found in Section 111 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) and in Ontario Regulation 363/04. This regulation adopts National Safety Code (NSC) Standard 10, Cargo Securement, as the standard for securing loads in Ontario.

The intent of this national standard is to:

  • Reduce the number of accidents caused by cargo shifting or falling from commercial vehicles.
  • Harmonize to the greatest extent practicable US, Canadian and Mexican cargo- securement regulations.

A copy of the National Standard is available on the: CCMTA website

Application of the Regulations

Cargo-securement standards apply to all types of cargo, except items exempt from Division 3 of NSC Standard 10.  These exemptions include commodities in bulk that lack structure or fixed shape (for example liquids, gases, grain, liquid concrete, sand, gravel, aggregates), and that are transported in a tank, hopper, box or similar device forming part of the structure of a commercial motor vehicle.  

However, Section 111(2) of the HTA makes it an offence if any load or portion of the load may become dislodged or fall, leak, spill or blow from the vehicle.

Cargo-securement requirements apply to all private and for-hire operators transporting goods on Ontario highways, including those operating commercial motor vehicles registered for 4,500 kilograms or less and to all motor vehicles carrying a load.  This section specifies that the goods must be secured so the vehicle can be operated safely when loaded.

Performance Criteria

The requirements included in NSC Standard 10 require all cargo-securement systems to withstand specified minimum amounts of force in the forward, rearward, sideways and downward directions.

Generally, operators are not required to conduct testing of cargo-securement systems to determine whether they comply with the performance requirements.  The standard states clearly that cargo secured according to the general rules and the commodity-specific rules is considered to meet the specified performance criteria.

Requirements for Securement Devices

Cargo-securement standards require that all devices and systems used to secure cargo to, or within, a vehicle must be capable of meeting the performance criteria.  All vehicle structures, systems, parts and components used to secure cargo must be in proper working order when in use.  This means that they cannot be damaged or weakened, so as to affect their performance.  

The cargo-securement standard has a reference for manufacturing standards for certain types of tie-downs, including steel strapping, chain, synthetic webbing, wire rope, and cordage.  Changes in the references do not necessarily mean that the older securement devices need to be replaced.

Proper Use of Tie-Downs

Each tie-down must be attached and secured so that it doesn’t become loose, unfastened, opened or released while the vehicle is moving. All tie-downs and other components of a cargo-securement system must be located inside any rub rails, whenever practical. Also, edge protection must be used whenever a tie-down would be subject to wear or cutting at the point where it touches an article of cargo. The edge protection must resist wear, cutting and crushing.

Use of Unmarked Tie-Downs

The cargo-securement standards do not allow the use of a tie-down, or component of a tie-down, to secure cargo to a vehicle unless it is marked by the manufacturer with respect to its working load limit.

Unrated and Unmarked Anchor Points on Commercial Vehicles

The cargo-securement rules do not require the rating and marking of anchor points on a vehicle or on cargo. While vehicle manufacturers are encouraged to rate and mark anchor points, the new rules do not include this as a requirement.

Front-End Structures on Commercial Vehicles

Rules concerning front-end structures or header boards are included in NSC Standard 10, and cover commercial vehicles transporting cargo that is in contact with the front-end structure of the vehicle.

Summary of Cargo-Securement Standards

The national standard is comprised of general provisions for all cargo and other securement requirements for specific types of cargo such as logs, dressed lumber, metal coils, concrete pipe and paper rolls. The other securement requirements for specific cargo is applied, in addition to the general requirements.

Securement systems or devices used to secure cargo on a vehicle must meet the performance criteria within the standard and prevent cargo from moving or shifting on the vehicle when it is subjected to forces caused by accelerating, braking, emergency lane changes, cresting a hill or any event up to, but short of, a crash.

Securement systems are considered compliant with the national standard, provided that they meet the general provisions and any requirements for specific types of cargo. Tie-downs, blocking, bracing and friction mats are common devices used to secure cargo, and must meet the aggregate working-load limit and minimum tie-down requirements in the standard.

General Securement Requirements

Cargo must be secured firmly on or within a vehicle by:

  • Structures of adequate strength
  • Dunnage (loose materials used to support and protect cargo) or Dunnage bags (inflatable bags intended to fill space between articles of cargo or between cargo and the wall of the vehicle)
  • Shoring bars
  • Tie-downs
  • A combination of the above

Cargo Placement and Restraint

Articles of cargo that are likely to roll must be restrained by chocks, wedges, a cradle or other equivalent means to prevent rolling. They must remain fastened or secured while the vehicle is moving.

Articles of cargo placed beside each other and secured by tie-downs placed across the cargo must be:

  • Placed in direct contact with each other
  • Prevented from shifting toward each other while the vehicle is moving

Minimum Working-Load Limits

The aggregate working-load limit of the tie-downs used for an article or a group of articles of cargo must be at least 50 percent of the weight of that article or group of articles.

The aggregate working-load limit is the sum of:

  • The working load limit for each tie-down that goes from an anchor point on the vehicle to an attachment point on an article of cargo (direct tie-down)


  • The working-load limit for each tie-down that goes from an anchor point on the vehicle, through or over the cargo, and then attaches to another anchor point on the vehicle (indirect tie-down)

Minimum Number of Tie-Downs

The cargo-securement system used to secure cargo must consist of the minimum required number of tie-downs. This requirement is in addition to complying with rules concerning the aggregate working load limit.

When an article of cargo is not blocked or positioned to prevent movement in the forward direction, the number of tie-downs needed depends on the length and weight of the articles.

There must be at least:

  • One tie-down for articles 1.52 metres or less in length, and 500 kilograms or less in weight
  • Two tie-downs if the article is:
    • 1.52 metres (five feet) or less in length and more than 500 kilograms (1,100 lb.) in weight
    • Greater than 1.52 metres (five feet) but less than 3.04 metres (10 feet), regardless of weight

For example, one tie-down is required if the article of cargo is 1.52 metres in length (five feet) and does not exceed 500 kilograms (1,100 lb). If the article of cargo is greater than 1.52 metres in length but less than 3.04 metres, then two tie-downs would be needed, regardless of the weight.

When an article of cargo is not blocked or positioned to prevent forward movement and the item is longer than 3.04 metres (10 feet) in length, then it must be secured by:

  • Two tie-downs for the for the first 3.04 metres (10 feet) of cargo
  • One tie-down for each additional 3.04 metres (10 feet) or fraction thereof

If an article is blocked or braced by a header board, bulkhead or other articles that are adequately secured to prevent forward movement, then it must be secured by at least:

  • One tie-down for every 3.04 metres of article length, or fraction thereof

Special Rule for Special-Purpose Vehicles

Generally, the basic rules concerning the minimum number of tie-downs do not apply to a vehicle transporting one or more articles of cargo such as machinery or manufactured structural items (for example, steel or concrete beams, crane booms, girders, trusses and so on), which because of their design, size, shape or weight must be secured by special methods.

However, any article of cargo carried on that vehicle must be adequately secured by devices that are capable of meeting the performance requirements and the working-load limit requirements.

Commodity-Specific Securement Requirements

Detailed requirements have been adopted for the securement of the following commodities:

  • Logs
  • Dressed lumber
  • Metal coils
  • Paper rolls
  • Concrete pipe
  • Inter-modal containers
  • Small vehicles (under 4,500 kg)
  • Heavy vehicles
  • Crushed vehicles
  • Roll-on/roll-off or hook-lift containers
  • Large boulders

For the complete securement requirements for these specific commodities, refer to NSC Standard 10.

1. Logs

The commodity-specific rules for securing logs apply to the transportation of almost all logs, with the following exceptions:

  • Loads that consist of no more than four logs may be transported using the general cargo-securement rules
  • Firewood, stumps, log debris and logs may be transported in a vehicle or container enclosed on all sides and strong enough to contain them

2. Dressed Lumber and Similar Building Products

The rules in this section apply to the transportation of bundles of dressed lumber, packaged lumber or building products such as plywood, gypsum board or other materials of similar shape.

Building products that are not bundled or packaged must be treated as loose items and transported using the general cargo-securement rules. For the purpose of this section, the term "bundle" refers to packages of lumber, building materials or similar products that are unitized for securement as a single article of cargo.

This section does not apply to building products loaded on pallets or to packages of engineered wood products such as beams or trusses. Dressed lumber and similar bundled building products transported in enclosed trucks or trailers can be transported using the general cargo-securement rules.

3. Metal Coils

The rules in this section apply to the transportation of one or more metal coils, which individually or grouped together weigh 2,268 kilograms (5,000 lb.) or more. Shipments of metal coils that weigh less than 2,268 kilograms (5,000 lb.) may be secured using the general cargo-securement rules.

4. Paper Rolls

The rules for securing paper rolls apply to shipments of them, which individually or together weigh 2,268 kilograms (5,000 lb.) or more. Shipments of paper rolls that weigh less than this, as well as paper rolls bundled on a pallet, may be secured either using the rules in this section or the general cargo-securement rules.

5. Concrete Pipe

The rules in this section apply to the transportation of concrete pipe on flatbed trailers and vehicles, and on lowboy trailers. Concrete pipe that is bundled tightly together into a single rigid article with no tendency to roll, and concrete pipe loaded in a sided vehicle or container, must be secured using the general rules.

6. Inter-modal Containers

The requirements for inter-modal containers cover the transportation of these containers on container chassis and other types of vehicles. Inter-modal containers are freight containers designed and constructed to permit them to be used in two or more modes of transportation (for example, road and ship). Cargo contained within inter-modal containers must be secured using the general cargo-securement rules or, if applicable, the commodity-specific rules.

7. Automobiles, Light Trucks and Vans

This portion of the new standards applies to the transportation of automobiles, light trucks, vans and equipment that operate on wheels or tracks, which individually weigh 4,500 kilograms (9,920 lb.) or less. Individual vehicles that are heavier than this must be secured in the same manner as heavy vehicles, equipment and machinery.

8. Heavy Vehicles, Equipment and Machinery

These requirements apply to the transportation of heavy vehicles, equipment and machinery that operate on wheels or tracks, such as loaders, bulldozers, tractors and power shovels, which individually weigh 4,500 kilograms (9,920 lb.) or more. Those lighter than 4,500 kilograms (9,920 lb.) may be secured using these rules; the rules for automobiles, light trucks and vans; or the general freight requirements.

9. Flattened or Crushed Vehicles

The transportation of vehicles such as automobiles, light trucks and vans that have been flattened or crushed for recycling is covered by these requirements. This does not include vehicles that have been damaged in a collision and still have wheels attached.

10. Roll-on/Roll-off or Hook-Lift Containers

These rules apply to the transportation of roll-on/roll-off or hook-lift containers. A hook-lift container is specialized, primarily used to contain and transport materials in the waste, recycling, construction, demolition and scrap industries. These containers are handled by specialized vehicles on which the container is loaded and unloaded onto a tilt-frame body by a moveable hook arm.

11. Large Boulders

The rules in this section apply to the transportation of any large piece of natural, irregularly shaped rock weighing more than 5,000 kilograms (11,000 lb.), or with a volume of more than two cubic metres on an open vehicle, or in a vehicle whose sides are not designed and rated to contain such cargo.

Pieces of rock weighing more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds), but less than 5,000 kilograms (11,000 pounds) must be secured, either using this section, or using the general cargo securement rules, including:

  • Rock contained within a vehicle which is designed to carry such cargo
  • Secured individually by tie-downs, provided that each piece can be stabilized and adequately secured

Rock that has been formed or cut to a shape, and provides a stable base, must also be secured, as described in this section or with the general-securement rules.

Other Sources of Help

The following websites may be useful in obtaining information on cargo securement.

A copy of the National Standard is available on the CCMTA website

Driver’s Handbook on Cargo Securement

NSC Standard 10 interpretation documents

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