Trucking companies that work under contract to carry goods will no longer be limited to a maximum of eight shippers, the Interstate Commerce Commission decided yesterday.

The move, which goes into effect when published in the Federal Register, is expected to benefit small shippers particularly.

In the past, contract carriers have been reluctant to "waste" a contract on small shippers when they knew they would only be able to serve eight shippers, the ICC said.

The new policy was opposed by the common carriers, who make their services available to anyone. It also will enable the contract carriers to be more efficient by serving shippers with complementary needs, the ICC said.

In other actions, the ICC:

Proposed the closing of 18 field offices in 12 states in a reorganization plan designed to improve the overall effectiveness of the ICC. The plan-would reduce the number of field offices from 75 to 57.

Ruled that household goods carriers could accept charge cards for payment of interstate transportation fees. "There is little reason to deny the household goods shipping public... this increasingly customary cash substitute," the agency said. It reserved the right to approve charge card plans before they are used.

Meanwhile, a newly organized group seeking to prevent trucking deregulation filed a petition with the ICC asking that Chairman A. Daniel O'Neal be disqualified from involvement in proceedings involving possible deregulation.

Assure Competitive Transportation (ACT) alleged that statements by O'Neal showed a "predisposition toward a preconceived result" that require his disqualification.