Truck driving has long been one of the most dangerous jobs in the US because truck drivers experience more fatalities and serious injuries significantly higher than other occupations. In 2019, 843 truck drivers lost their lives on the job. Truck drivers experience a fatality rate of 26.8 per 100,000 workers compared with the rate for all US workers of 3.5 fatalities for every 100,000 workers. Unfortunately, the number of non-trucker deaths in these accidents is even higher because the biggest vehicles on the road are involved. But just like with other industries and professions, there are ways to prevent truck accidents and injuries. In this article, we’ll go over the safety hazards for truckers and how to prevent them.
Who Counts as a Truck Driver or Trucker?
A truck driver or trucker is any worker who drives a truck of over 3 tons to transport materials to and from a specified destination. Truckers may also do jobs to keep their truck in working order.
What Are Some Common Trucker Injuries?
Truckers can experience non-fatal incidents while driving, unloading, or preparing and inspecting their vehicles. Some of these injuries include:
Strains and sprains
Cuts and lacerations
Soreness and pain
Multiple traumatic injuries
What Can Lead to a Trucker Injury?
There are various instances where a trucker can get injured. These are the four causes that are especially concerning for truckers:
Transportation Accidents – Truckers drive vehicles that are difficult to maneuver and have large blind spots for many hours. The risk of an accident is increased when driving at night, during inclement weather, or on icy roads.
Ergonomic Injuries – Truckers can experience back, leg, arm, or hand pain from sitting in a driving position for many hours. They might also experience some muscle pain from unloading and handling the cargo they are transporting.
Field Repairs – Truckers can sustain injuries while doing field repairs or servicing their vehicles.
Falls – The doors on these large transport trucks are raised high up off the ground. Climbing in and out of the truck puts the driver at risk of falling, which could cause various injuries.
What Are the Hazards Related to Truck Driving?
Spilling and leaking flammable substances can start fires (ex: tank trucks experiencing mechanical failure or collisions).
Hazardous cargo can lead to explosions, acute intoxication, or chemical burns.
Exhaust gases, like carbon monoxide, can lead to acute poisoning.
There is an increased risk of vehicular accidents, especially for long-haul truck drivers.
Lengthy drives can cause fatigue and driving while tired.
Slips, trips, and falls from a tall cabin, ladder, or trailer.
Disengaging trailers one from the other poses the risk of being crushed.
Trauma due to physical overexertion (ex: when moving heavy pieces of cargo).
Prolonged exposure to engine noise can result in severe headaches and hearing loss.
Possible exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Exposure to extreme hot or cold climates can lead to detrimental health issues like heat stroke and frostbite.
Whole-body vibrations caused by a moving vehicle can impair musculoskeletal functions and contribute to fatigue.
Possible exposure to toxic substances while transporting hazardous cargo.
The potential risk of skin diseases caused by chemical exposure.
Chronic effects due to the inhalation of exhaust fumes.
Exposure to dust (ex: when driving on desert roads).
The increased risk of infection or contamination from biologically hazardous cargo.
Prolonged driving in the seated position can increase the risk of lower back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders.
Visual discomfort caused by eye strain when driving on dark or poorly illuminated roads.
Exposure to violence (ex: being the target of a crime aimed at valuable loads and physical violence at roadside rest stops).
Potential increase in stress levels or psychological discomfort from being isolated and away from home and family for long periods.
Preventative Measures Truck Drivers Can Take to Ensure Their Safety and Well-being on the Job
Here are a few simple but effective ways truckers can reduce their risk of injury or illness while working:
Learn and use safe lifting and moving techniques for heavy loads.
Use mechanical aids to assist lifting if available.
Avoid breathing in exhaust fumes near your vehicle.
Turn off your engine when parked, especially in enclosed areas.
Protect your hands and body by wearing the appropriate personal protective clothing when needed (ex: chemical-resistant gloves, steel-toed boots, overalls, etc.)
Ask your employer to install an ergonomically designed driver’s seat.
Take short, frequent breaks when driving for lengthy periods.
Attend training sessions on recognizing and responding to the threat of violence.
Ask your employer to provide you with a personal alarm so that you can call for help if needed.
Extreme Safety is Here to Help
Knowing the safety hazards and how to prevent them will help truckers and their employers reduce the risk of accidents on the job. Truckers should assess the potential dangers, follow safety precautions, and know what to do should a hazard occur while on a drive. Doing so can stop a trucker from becoming a part of some unfortunate statistics. As experts in the safety industry, our team at Extreme Safety is here to help and answer any questions you might have. To contact us, call (310) 856-0166 or click here!