National Safety Month – Slips, Trips and Falls in the Trucking Industry
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), most incidents in general industry, including trucking, involve slips, trips, and falls. Such incidents cause 15% of all accidental deaths, and are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities. Many professional truck drivers are injured each year, and some are killed, as a result of slips, trips and falls.
Slips happen when there isn’t enough friction or traction between a person’s feet and the surface they are walking on. Common causes of slips include walking on wet or oily surfaces, loose or unanchored mats, and flooring that lacks the same degree of traction in all areas. In the trucking industry common areas of slips include offices, shops, trailer floors, tank ladders and tractor steps.
Trips happen when a person’s foot strikes an object, causing them to lose balance. Workers trip due to a variety of reasons, including clutter in walkways, poor lighting, uncovered cables, drawers being left open, wrinkled carpeting or rugs and uneven walking surfaces. Common areas for trips in the trucking industry include offices, shops, trailer floors, parking lots and unpaved yards.
Falls occur after someone has slipped or tripped and they tumble to the ground or to a lower surface. OSHA notes that the majority (67%) of falls happen on the same level resulting from slips and trips. The remaining 30% are falls from a height such as from a trailer floor, loading dock, tank ladder or cab of tractor to the ground.
The staff at RoadKing recommends the following tips for professional truck drivers to eliminate or reduce the frequency and severity of injuries caused by trips, slips and falls:
- Wear appropriate footwear with good foot and ankle support and slip-resistant soles and heels.
- Face forward and always use the three points of contact when climbing onto or down from a vehicle.
- Keep tools, gloves, brushes, fire extinguishers, etc., in their proper places and out of the cab entry/exit path.
- Observe walking surfaces, looking for any holes, raised elevations, slippery or slick surfaces, obstructions, etc. Use extra caution in adverse conditions, such as snow, ice, rain and mud.
- When walking around a truck at night, always use a flashlight.
- Never jump off freight, vehicles or loading platforms.
- Watch out for “bad housekeeping” such as loose materials, trash, discarded shrink wrap, cargo bars, broken pallets, clutter, etc. on loading docks, parking lots, terminals, etc.
- Use extreme caution securing/loosening a load on a flatbed.
- When inside bodies and trailers, be alert for slippery spots and loose material.
- Because loading docks and ramps are dangerous areas:
Be conscious of uneven surfaces between the truck/trailer bed and the dock or ramp. Ensure that dock plates/ramps are properly placed. Be careful on dock plates/ramps that are worn smooth or may be slippery. When walking along a loading dock or through a warehouse, be aware of powered material handling equipment.
- Always check to make sure your truck is finished being loaded/unloaded and that any and all vehicle-restraining devices have been removed before pulling out.
- Move cautiously and deliberately because inattention, fatigue, stress and haste can increase the risk for a slip, trip or fall. ¹
¹ https://www.roadking.com/truckers/avoid-trips-and-falls/ (Road King Magazine on 1/1/17 by Warren Eulgen, accessed 6/7/19)
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