Truck drivers face many hazards that are a regular part of the job both on and off the road. They often drive in adverse weather conditions for long hours at a time, must maneuver around unsafe drivers, and are often under a tight delivery schedule that leaves no room for error.
As an important essential service, trucking companies give professional drivers specialized training to safely operate bulky and hard-to-maneuver vehicles. But many of the risks they face every day actually occur when they are not driving.
Some common injuries in the trucking industry
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), motor vehicle accidents are the primary cause of death to workers in the United States. At 38%, the transportation and warehousing industries had the highest percentage of all worker deaths.
Within the transportation sector, tractor-trailer and heavy-truck operators sustain the most occupational injuries, and many of these injuries occur when the driver is not behind the wheel in activities such as lifting, dragging, or hauling heavy materials on or off the truck. Drivers also suffer from the cumulative effects of driving over a period of time.
The four most common injuries to truckers are trips, slips, falls and overexertion that occur from:
- Getting in and out of a vehicle
- Pushing and pulling items
- Lifting heavy materials when loading or unloading a truck
- Poor posture that results from long hours behind the wheel
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has identified four main transportation safety areas in need of improvement within the industry in order to reduce the number of accidents that occur, and has called on both regulatory and private industry oversight to help:
- Reduce operator distractions
- Screen for and treat obstructive sleep apnea as well as assessing operator physical fitness
- Provide stricter oversight of hours-of-service and work breaks to reduce operator fatigue
- Address alcohol and drug impairment of operators
In addition, the NSTB has recommended that trucking companies have collision-prevention technologies in their vehicles, such as forward-collision warning, emergency braking that is automatic, lane-departure warning and blind-spot detection.
Truckers in Pennsylvania should be aware of the procedures and requirements for filing a worker’s compensation claim when they have sustained a job-related injury. The insurance carrier may initially deny a claim for various reasons or refuse to pay for all the expenses related to the injury. When this happens, it is important to not give up but find out how to get just compensation for your injuries.