Truck drivers face many dangers while on the road. Collisions are often talked about the most as the biggest threat to the safety of drivers, but the leading cause of injuries drivers experience are not from behind the wheel.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of injuries occur when drivers fall, slip or trip while working on or around their truck. For drivers operating tanker trucks, the risk of experiencing these types of injuries are especially high due to the nature of their job. Every now and then we hear about a serious incident involving a driver that slipped and fell while working on top of their tanker or from handling hazardous material such a fuel or chemicals.
Most of these injuries are non-life threatening but they can cause a driver to miss time from work. There is always the chance of slips, trips and falls or severe muscle strains if you’re not careful. But these types of incidents are completely avoidable if proper precautions take place.
Follow the procedures
Every carrier should have a list of procedures for each task. Go through the list before starting work. Keep it handy in case you forget. Inspect the area and equipment to identify potential hazards. If you see any issues, report them immediately so they can be dealt with. Trying to work around them will only put you and others at risk.
Wear appropriate PPE
Use the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). For fall protection, wear slip resistant gloves, non-slip boots and a safety vest.
Wear appropriate safety gear such as hard hats and eye protection when hauling fuel or chemicals. In fact, wearing boots that cover your feet and ankles completely is crucial. This will help keep harmful substances from entering your boots and causing harm.
Watch your surroundings
Pay attention to the people and vehicles around you. If you can, try to stay away from busy areas. Be careful where you’re walking and get rid of any loose debris in your path so you don’t trip over it. Follow the proper procedures to connect or disconnect the hose from the truck. This will help avoid any potential hazards, like tripping over the hose.
Be aware of your physical condition
It is important to know your body’s limits. You should not work at heights or climb ladders if you are feeling faint. Medication can cause dizziness, or affect your balance and concentration, so be careful when climbing ladders.
Similarly, if you hurry through a task to finish it faster, you might pull a muscle or sprain something. Move slowly and cautiously instead. Due to the repetitive nature of the work, there might also be situations where injuries such as back, shoulder and neck pain can occur. Follow best practices to bend and pick heavy objects.
When lifting, carrying or moving a hose, use proper techniques to avoid muscle strain. You can further reduce the possibility of an injury by positioning the tanker closer to the transfer point.
Maintain three points of contact
You can lower your odds of falling by always having three points of contact. This means that you should have two feet and one hand on the object you are holding, or two hands and one foot. Follow this rule particularly when the ground is slippery, such as during rain, sleet or snow. Look out for any oils or grease, which might make it harder to grip surfaces in the cab or on the catwalk.
Operating a tanker truck can be dangerous if you're not cautious. By following these simple steps, you can help create a safe working environment for everyone.
Jane Jazrawy is co-founder and CEO of CarriersEdge, a leading provider of online driver training for the trucking industry, and co-creator of Best Fleets to Drive For, an annual evaluation of the best workplaces in the North American trucking industry produced in partnership with Truckload Carriers Association. She can be reached at www.carriersedge.com.