How to Understand Working Load Limits

Published on 08/20/19

Learn how to understand working load limits and what your tie down straps are rated for before your next big move. Learn some tricks from some of the experts!

Semi Truck using working load limit straps to secure cargo

How to Understand Working Load Limits

Throughout the shipping industry, there are many manufacturers and suppliers of Ratchet Straps who do not consider your safety as a priority. We can’t stress enough how much of a difference high-quality ratchet straps can make on securing cargo and providing peace of mind knowing your cargo is safe. Reputable Straps can greatly reduce the probability of injuries, insurance claims, or the risk of other motorists getting hurt while going down the road.

Many customers ask us all the time what is the importance of buying a reputable tie-down strap? A reputable tie-down strap includes a visible Working Load Limit Rating, it can also be known around the industry as a (WLL) for short. This is the number that is given to the tie downs for each of the straps ability to hold strength, before ultimately reaching the point of the straps of failure or the ratchet straps ratings have become exceeded.

WLL Label

When it comes down to how much weight can a ratchet strap hold you should ultimately always use at least a minimum of four tie down straps at four different securement points. No matter if you are using a Ratchet Strap, Cam Buckle, E Track Straps or other straps you choose should always come with a working load limit tag. What is a Working Load Limit Tag? A working Load Limit Tag is a tag on the side of the tie down strap that provides you with information of what your straps are rated for. This is not to be confused with the breaking strength of the tie down straps, but rather what they should be within weight limits of securing.

18221 ATV Tie Down w Soft Loop

1 inch Ratchet Straps

1 inch Ratchet Straps are considered for more lightweight duty applications such as Moving Vans, Dry Vans, Pickup Truck Beds, Pickup Trailers, or other lightweight duty cargo securement. Despite being small in size, 1 inch Ratchet Straps are heavy-duty and can secure most cargo in a pickup truck or moving van. The most popular size of 1 inch Ratchet Straps is 12 feet and 16 feet lengths of tie down webbing. 1 inch Ratchet Straps are rated for 500 lbs to 1,100 lbs working load limits based on hardware options that fit your application needs.

28221 Black Ratchet Strap w Wire Hook

2 inch Ratchet Straps

2-inch Ratchet Straps are our most common size of Ratchet Straps that are ordered and are used for heavier everyday tasks such as securing a vehicle, motorcycle, ATV, securing cargo in a pickup truck or trailer, and are used in professional trucking fleets. You can find 2-inch Ratchet Straps can be made in just about any length of tie down webbing, but by far 12 and 16 feet ratchet straps are the most popular length of webbing that is used. 2 inch Ratchet Straps are rated for 915 lbs to 3,335 lbs working load limits depending on hardware options that you are selecting.

3 inch ratchet strap made for semis

3 inch Ratchet Straps

3 inch Ratchet Straps are made for Flatbeds as the Ratchet Hardware alone on these straps are over 7 pounds in weight. These straps are some of the heaviest duty Ratchet Straps that we offer for the flatbed trucking industries. 3 inch Ratchet Straps are not the ideal type of straps for pickup trucks, moving vans, and should not be used for household applications in most situations. 3-inch Ratchet Straps are rated for 5,000 lb to 5,670 lb working load limits based on hardware options.

These straps should never be used on the back of a pickup truck or pickup trailer due to the large size of tie down webbing and the heavy oversized ratchet that is used. You will want to make sure to use a 1 inch or 2 inch Ratchet Strap to keep your lighter weight cargo secured in this case.

Winch Straps for Flatbed Trucks  RatchetStrapsUSA

4 inch Ratchet Straps

4 inch Ratchet Straps is our heaviest duty tie down straps are used to secure the heaviest duty cargo for the flatbed trucking industries. They utilize the same Ratchet Hardware as the 3-inch Ratchet Straps and the ratchet alone weighs nearly 8 pounds in weight. These straps are used for securing mostly on Flatbeds or around cargo that requires a tractor-trailer to move. The most common size of tie down webbing in lengths is 27 or 30 feet of webbing which is traditionally used for flatbeds.

4 inch Ratchet Straps are rated for 5,400 lb to 5,670 lb working load limits. Remember that when securing heavy cargo you should always make sure to secure cargo by using at least four different securement points at a minimum and if you feel that the load is unsafe or should use more tie down straps to always add more straps. It is not uncommon for more than four or even six tie down straps to be used for oddly shaped or large cargo securement for flatbeds in the trucking industry.

How Working Load Limits are Tested

Working Load Limits are tested by using each hook of the tie-down strap until the amount of force is reached to break the strap. This is where the term Breaking Strength often will come from. In order to reach a working load limit, you will need to divide the breaking strength by three to reach the Safe Working Load Limit. For example, a 10,000-pound breaking strength would be a 3,333 lb working load limit as this is the safe amount that the straps are rated for by the Department of Transportation. For a full list of the DOT’s rules and regulations please check out the DOT’s website here

The main reason behind the breaking strength is so much higher than the working load limits is due to the amount of force from hard braking with a heavy load not being able to be fully calculated for every situation. You never know when you are going down the road when a motorist will cut you off, cause a sudden lane change, or an accident occurs ahead of you causing a sudden jerk to avoid. By having a working load limit you can help to reduce the risk of a load coming out of a trailer or out of a pickup truck bed

If you have any questions regarding what works best for your application needs, or if you are uncertain by any of some of our useful tips give our experts a call at 800-483-2189 or by using our online contact form located at the top of the website if you prefer to use email instead. We look forward to being able to assist you further with all of your tie down and shipping needs.

Where can you find what your straps are rated for?

Answer – You can find what your tie down straps are rated for by locating the tag on the straps that provide you with a visible and easy to read working load limits. Depending on the state that you are in may require you to secure cargo with straps on the tie down or it could be deemed as unsafe to use. You can find the full rules on the Department of Transportations website located here