Twelve Safety Tips for Drivers

Top three causes for work-related injuries in 2017 according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics:

  1. Overexertion, bodily reaction – 33.5% or 295,830 claims - Typical days lost: 13
  2. Contact with objects/equipment – 26% or 229,170 claims - Typical days lost: 5
  3. Slips, trips, and falls – 25.8 % or 227,760 claims - Typical days lost: 12

Top three causes for work-related fatalities in 2017 according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics:

  1. Transportation incidents – 40% or 2,077 deaths
  2. Slips, trips and falls – 17% or 887 deaths
  3. Violence or other injuries by persons or animals – 16% or 807 deaths

Every year since 2011 (earliest available data), the top cause of injuries and fatalities have not changed. The #2 and #3 will alternate positions, but there is a large gap between them and #4. Slips, trips, and falls (STF) are the only cause that is on both lists, and are possibly the easiest to prevent. Simple things such as correctly mounting/dismounting a vehicle or heavy equipment could prevent 25% of the STF injuries. If it is so easily preventable, then why do we constantly have these injuries?

  1. Lack of training: People may assume others know how to complete a task, but how do you really know if you do not train them.
  2. Lack of accountability: You may have trained someone a certain way, but if you are not reinforcing and correcting issues as you see them, the training does no good.
  3. Complacency: When someone does the same task without a consequence, they can become unaware of the hazards associated with the task.
  4. Rushing: The more someone is rushed, they will start looking for short cuts to gain speed. This could include ignoring safety procedures.

While this list does not encompass every reason why accidents happen, they are simple things that you can change about your safety program. Below is an article that comes from the trucking magazine Road King. While it is designed to highlight some of the STF hazards truckers might see, it does relate to more industries than that.

No Substitute for Knowledge, Experience and Presence of Mind
BY: David A. Kolman, Senior Editor

YOU MAY NOT GIVE MUCH THOUGHT TO SLIPPING, TRIPPING AND FALLING; YET, YOU SHOULD. HERE’S WHY. Of all workplace safety incidents, slips, trips and falls (STF) have the highest frequency. Falls are the second largest source of injury following vehicle accidents, and a significant number of falls involve workplace related vehicles, including trucks.

You may be surprised to know that falls from as low as four feet can result in serious injury, possibly even death. The average person’s reaction time is about half a second. That’s all it takes to fall four feet. As you fall, gravity quickly increases your speed, and impact forces increase as well.

Research indicates that a person falling from a height of four feet will hit the ground with impact forces as high as 12 times body weight. Take a 250-pound male trucker, for example. He would hit the ground with a force of up to 3,000 pounds. Safety officials say STF are typically due to workers acting hastily, inattention to the task at hand, complacency, fatigue and horseplay. What’s more, they note that truckers’ overall fitness and health can affect their dexterity and agility.

While STF are the most common incidents, they—and their resulting injuries—are also among the most preventable. The keys are moving carefully and remaining alert and conscious of slip, trip and fall hazards.

Common Hazards
The various slip, trip and fall hazards truckers face every day can be placed in four categories:

  1. Mounting and Dismounting Vehicles
  • Lack of a three-point contact on the vehicle
  • Accessing the trailer for inspection, loading/unloading, tarping/untarping and securing/loosening the load
  • Climbing on the vehicle to clean lights and windshields and connect/disconnect air and electrical lines
  • Improper footwear

All too often, note safety officials, truck drivers fail to maintain three-point contact. Keep three of your four limbs in contact with the vehicle at all times—two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand, so only one limb is in motion at any time. Having three points of contact provides maximum stability and support, otherwise, a driver is unstable and easily imbalanced, so any misstep or faulty grip could result in an accident.

     2.  Loading Docks

  • Gaps between the truck and dock
  • Climbing up/down the dock ladder
  • Debris, obstacles and clutter, such as metal bands, shrink-wrap, pieces of lumber, skids, trash, etc.
  • Frequently crowded, heavy-traffic areas
  • Metal dock plates and ramps that are worn smooth and slippery
  • Dock plate edges
  • Changes in elevation leading into a warehouse
  • Loading ramps leading into a trailer
  • Uneven surfaces
  • Poor lighting/visibility
  • Environmental conditions such as: snow, ice, rain, mud, grease, morning dew

     3.  Trailers

  • Not keeping doors under control when opening/closing
  • Slippery and wet floors
  • Improper use of pallets or freight as stepladders
  • Unsecured loads
  • Unstable/shifting freight when loading/unloading
  • Improper attaching/releasing chains or straps

     4.  Parking Lots, Walking Surfaces, Fuel Areas

  • Unfamiliar location
  • Sloped, uneven, loose, irregular surfaces
  • Poor lighting/visibility
  • Environmental conditions
  • Spilled fuels, oils, lubricants, etc.
  • Wet restroom and shower floors

Working in transportation presents many types of slip, trip and fall hazards. Three keys to being safe are:

  1. Be aware of hazards and know how to deal with them
  2. Pay attention to your surroundings
  3. Stay focused on the task you’re performing

The 12 tips on the next page serve as great STF reminders. Please share them with others in your organization as appropriate.

12 Stay-Safe Tips

  1. Wear appropriate footwear with good foot and ankle support and slip-resistant soles and heels.
  2. Face forward and always use the three points of contact when climbing onto or down from a vehicle.
  3. Keep tools, gloves, brushes, fire extinguishers, etc., in their proper places and out of the cab entry/exit path.
  4. 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.
  5. When walking around a truck at night, always use a flashlight.
  6. Never jump off freight, vehicles or loading platforms.
  7. 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.
  8. Use extreme caution securing/loosening a load on a flatbed.
  9. When inside bodies and trailers, be alert for slippery spots and loose material.
  10. 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
  11. 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.
  12. Move cautiously and deliberately because inattention, fatigue, stress and haste can increase the risk for a slip, trip or fall.

Kolman, David A. “Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls.” RoadKing Magazine, 5 Jan. 2017, https://www.roadking.com/truckers/avoid-trips-and-falls/.