SLIP AND FALL PREVENTION FOR TRUCK DRIVERS
In the transportation industry, driver behavior, equipment hazards and environmental factors can all lead to slips and falls. Adjusting behavior and being aware of common safety risks can help prevent the most common workplace injuries.
DRIVER BEHAVIOR SAFETY
- Use the three-point contact rule when climbing and descending. Training in this method is required by U.S. Federal Motor Carrier regulations. Keep three limbs — one hand and two feet, or two hands and one foot — in contact with the handholds or the steps. If a hand or foot slips, your two other limbs will be in contact with the vehicle to catch yourself.
- Always face the truck when exiting. Drivers may be tempted to exit the cab facing forward or away from the truck, which makes the three-point contact method awkward. Facing the truck when exiting increases your control.
- Avoid jumping. Some of the most frequent and serious injuries are the result of jumping from the cab, deck plate or steps.
- Keep hands free. Avoid carrying items while entering or exiting the cab, so your hands are free to use the grab rails.
- Get a grip. The hookup area behind the cab is the scene of many slips and falls. Place your feet solidly on the surface of the catwalk and use a secure handhold, leaving one hand free to do the work.
- Walk at a safe pace. Walking too fast or running can cause major problems. When walking around the truck or loading area, keep your pace appropriate for the weather and other conditions.
- Be aware of low-light areas and times of day. As daylight changes or when wearing sunglasses, low light can limit a driver’s visibility. Be mindful to remove sunglasses and use flashlights or exterior lights to enhance visibility.
EQUIPMENT SAFETY GUIDELINES
- Select or retrofit equipment with nonslip surfaces. Newer trucks are incorporating better steps and ladders with nonslip surfaces that drain without retaining mud, ice and snow. Square edges and perforated surfaces on the steps reduce the chance of slips while entering or exiting the cab, especially during poor weather.
- Keep equipment in good condition. Pre- and post-trip inspections should include steps, deck plates and grab rails. Repairs should be done immediately. Safety equipment inspections should be included in all preventive maintenance services.
- Select proper footwear. Drivers should be required to wear sturdy footwear with slip-resistant soles.
Clean the deck plate / catwalk. Deck plates commonly become slippery from fuel and moisture, so it’s critical that they be properly and regularly cleaned. When drivers need to connect, unhook or check brake and electrical connections, the work should be done from the ground if possible. If not, the deck plate / catwalk area should be equipped with as many footholds and grab rails as possible.
ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY GUIDELINES
- Reduce slip-and-fall potential during inclement weather. Snow, ice, rain, mud and even morning dew can increase the potential for slips and falls. Drivers should be instructed to clean / brush off handholds, steps and truck platforms before entering the cab. When exiting, they should use extra caution during weather events. Drivers should not install carpet on the steps to keep the inside of the cab clean. Carpet can freeze in cold, icy conditions and be very slippery during wet weather.
- Keep the cab clean. Although most truckers aren’t going to win awards from Martha Stewart for their housekeeping skills, a clean cab is essential for safety. Drivers should use trash bags to keep the floor clean. Loose wires from CB radios, cellular phones and other equipment should be kept off the floor as they can easily catch on the driver’s heel.
- Carry emergency equipment. Always carry emergency items, such as chains, sand or salt, a shovel, a flashlight and batteries, etc.
LOADING DOCK SAFETY
Loading docks and ramps are dangerous areas. They are frequently congested, heavy-traffic areas, and working and walking surfaces are often wet. Metal dock plates can wear smooth and become very slippery, and the edge of a dock plate can be a common place for trips and falls.
- Use portable railings. Accidental backward steps can result in a fall from a loading dock. Portable railings prevent many dangerous falls. They should be removed only when a truck or trailer is at the dock and replaced as soon as the truck or trailer leaves.
- Design traffic patterns for safety. Having a strategic flow for goods as they are transported on and off trucks and trailers helps reduce congestion and reduces the risks of slips, trips and falls.
- Maintain surfaces, ramps and gangplanks. Ramps and gangplanks have hazards similar to loading docks. They should have a gradual slope and be as wide possible. The surface should also be skid-resistant and kept dry and clean.