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Truck Driving: Hazards On and Off the Road Safety Talk
Transporting goods and materials by truck is a huge business and a vital industry to the economy. It is estimated that there are more than 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States, according to Census.gov. This safety talk discusses common injuries in this industry as well as best practices to reduce the risk of injury.
Injury and Illness Statistics in Truck Driving
The employees in this occupation can experience many different injuries on the job. It is important to focus on not only the hazards faced while driving but the other hazards associated with this occupation as well.
There are more fatalities experienced in truck driving than in many other industries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) reported that 892 truckers died in traffic accidents on the job in 2019.
Days Away From Work Injuries Suffered by Truck Drivers
In a publication put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it was reported that over 47,990 drivers suffered injuries that required days away from work in 2019. The causes for the days away from work cases for tractor-trailer drivers in this report were as follows:
- Sprains, strains, and tears (18,960 cases)
- Soreness and pain (10,730 cases)
- All other natures (5,990 cases)
- Fractures (4,540 cases)
Common Events that Lead to Injuries
While motor vehicle accidents are the most common events that lead to injuries for truck drivers, these events are not in the lead by much. The BLS report states that the leading events or exposures for these injuries in 2019 are as follows:
- Roadway incidents involving motorized land vehicles (6,670 cases)
- Fall on the same level (6,340 cases)
- Struck by object or equipment (5,560 cases)
- Fall to a lower level (4,670 cases)
- Slips, trips without fall (3,560 cases)
Best Practices in Avoiding Injuries Outside of the Cab
While there are many variables you can control on the road as well as while unloading equipment or materials as a driver, there are many variables that are outside of your full control, such as other drivers and weather conditions. It is important to account for these different hazards and make choices that help mitigate them. Some safeguards and best practices for job tasks outside of the cab are:
- Take care of your physical shape and health. Due to the nature of the job, many truck drivers do not get enough physical activity which puts them at a risk for injury when unloading materials. Chronic illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes can also develop due to a lack of physical activity and poor diet.
- Eliminate manual handling of objects and materials as much as possible by utilizing a forklift to move materials or objects. If elimination is not possible, ask for help when lifting awkward or heavy loads.
- Stretch or do some kind of warm-up before engaging in physical activities. You put your body at risk for injury when you overexert yourself after long periods of rest.
- Take note of the conditions of your walking surfaces as well as in or on your trailer. Wear proper footwear that is slip-resistant and supports your ankles. Safety toe boots will also protect your feet in case of a dropped object.
- Park in areas away from traffic when unloading. There are many times when truck drivers are struck by other drivers. Wear a reflective orange vest as well anytime you are outside of your truck in an area where traffic is present.
- When in warehouses, do not walk where forklift traffic is present. Follow any instructions that direct visitors where to safely enter a warehouse to reduce the risk of being struck by a forklift.
- Wear gloves and keep your hands out of pinch points. Never put your hands where you cannot see them.
While many fatalities and injuries are caused while actually driving a truck, many injuries occur outside the cab as well. Controlling the hazards that you are able to control and making informed decisions to mitigate those hazards outside of your control can help to ensure you go home healthy. Evaluate what risks you are taking next time you are unloading equipment or materials.
- What are some other hazards to consider when driving a truck?
- What are other safety measures to take to prevent injuries?
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