How To Spot Supplier Risk During Pickups & Deliveries

CONTRIBUTION BY Ben Goldwasser – Business development professional

To wrap up our series on identifying supplier risk, we examine what you should look for during pickups and deliveries. Earlier articles in the series covered the importance of risk profiling as well as other situations where you should look for supplier risk. If you missed any of these, you can find them here. When it comes time for your carrier to pickup or deliver your cargo, run through this checklist to ensure you’re not working with carriers that will put your business at risk.


One of the first things to inspect during pickups and deliveries is the equipment used to transport your cargo. Before any cargo is loaded, identify the exact truck and trailer being used for the job. Make sure the truck and trailer aren’t damaged from previous trips. Also, check the deck of the trailer to make sure it’s intact; and that the rest of the trailer is rust free. Finally, inspect tires for adequate tread and proper inflation.

Before shipping any cargo, you attempt to minimize potential damages by vetting your carriers right? Well, before your cargo is ever moved, make sure your carriers’ equipment is in good condition.

Driver State

Another serious risk factor to look for during pickups and deliveries is the physical and mental state of the driver that will be responsible for transporting your cargo. Drivers will spend a lot of time with your cargo, so it is in a shipper’s best interest to ensure their driver will be safe. Obviously, check that your driver is not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. Just as important, make sure they aren’t groggy or tired, which can be just as dangerous as having alcohol in your system. Also, does your carrier help ensure driver compliance by maintaining organized and up to date logbooks? Do they have a detailed understanding of their drivers’ hours of service, and work to avoid violations? If not, your carrier and their drivers could be putting your entire business at risk.

If you ever have any doubts about the state of a driver, don’t be afraid to speak up. Checking the mental and physical state of the driver transporting your cargo is a crucial way to protect your business from supplier risk.

Personal Protective Equipment

During pickups and deliveries, make sure your carriers’ employees are using the proper personal protective equipment for the given job. OSHA requires, “protective equipment to be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary.” This includes safety glasses, respirators, steel-toed boots, work shirts, gloves, hard hats, and hearing protection. Unfortunately, workplace accidents do happen, but using the proper equipment goes a long way to minimize these accidents and protect workers.

If your carrier provides personal protective equipment and mandates its proper use, this is a great sign you are working with a reliable and safe carrier. However, if you repeatedly see carriers engaging in risky behaviors during pickups and deliveries by not using proper safety equipment, you may want to consider a different carrier for your transportation needs.


Properly securing your cargo is one of the most important steps for minimizing damage. Therefore, you need to make sure your carriers’ securement equipment and practices won’t put your cargo at risk. First, check all securement equipment for damage and the effects of aging. This means inspecting chains for rust, tarps for holes, and straps for tears. Also, ensure your carriers are using the proper equipment for the type of trailer. Flat decks need corner protectors, and blocking and bracing should be used if loading a van. Finally, ensure your carrier tightens down all cargo before the truck moves anywhere.

Making sure your cargo is properly secured during pickups and deliveries dramatically lowers the chances of an accident involving your cargo. By checking your carriers’ securement practices, you can spot risky behaviors during pickups and deliveries.

Overall, we’ve covered three areas where you can identify carrier risk communication, on-site evaluations, and pickups and deliveries. By looking for risky behaviors during these interactions with your carriers, you can help protect your business from the consequences of supplier failure.