“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Think ahead about how to manag ...
e moving loads.
As a professional driver, one task you will face, at one point or another, is manual material handling. With the variety of cargo that’s transported, the likelihood of helping to carry boxes, small construction tool attachments, or even cargo securement tools is likely. The most common overexertion injuries sustained by truck drivers involve the neck, shoulders, and back. After spending hours driving sitting mostly in a stationary position, the burst of strenuous activity involved in lifting can cause injuries. Carriers and operation staff can help mitigate how much manual lifting is done by the driver.
When a carrier and their operations staff are planning loads and interacting with customers, they should ask whether there will be assistance for their driver to unload/load the cargo safely. This question can apply to most cargo that is being transported by truck or on a trailer. Figuring it out ahead of time helps eliminate unsafe lifting that may otherwise be expected to be done by the driver.
Drivers also need to manage themselves when it comes to manually lifting cargo during their work shift. Before lifting, drivers should take steps to prevent an injury or damage to the cargo. First, look at what needs to be lifted, and then ask: “Can I lift this piece of cargo safely?” Secondly, look at the object(s) to be lifted, and ask:
• How heavy is it?
• How far do I need to carry it?
• What are the ground conditions where I will be lifting and carrying?
If you are unsure that you can lift and carry the cargo safely, ask for help!
Drivers can be proactive in preventing injuries by limiting the amount of lifting they do. During a driver’s work shift, there are common cargo securement tools that drivers need to lift, such as straps, chains, boomers, and load bars. These tools can be quite heavy and awkward. Each load can require different cargo securement tools and it can be quite exhausting lifting and carrying multiple chains and boomers down a 53-foot trailer.
To help prevent injuries, such as a strained back or a rolled ankle, drivers should plan:
• While walking up to the truck or trailer, confirm what cargo will be loaded
• Confirm what cargo securement tools will be needed
• When possible, place the cargo securement out before the cargo is loaded
Setting out cargo securement tools ahead of time helps reduce the risk of injury from lifting heavy chains repeatedly and carrying them across uneven ground. The same approach applies to unloading cargo.
Remember that manual lifting injuries can be avoided by slowing down, asking the right questions, and most of all, asking for help when it is needed. Employers, supervisors, and drivers share the responsibility to avoid injury caused by manual material handling.
Sudden changes in weather conditions will definitely impact your day. As a profession ...
al driver, you know you need to be alert and stay informed about conditions along your route.
You expect the seasons to change, but it can take you by surprise when the weather seems to switch seasons without notice. To drive according to conditions, you need to be prepared as best as you can; check the weather reports along your route before you head out and again every few hours. Be prepared for inclement weather in all aspects, with the right mindset—able to adjust to the conditions as they change—and with the right gear in case you need to stop along the road.
• When things start to look dicey, minimize distractions. Turn off music and don’t talk on your phone. Try opening your window to listen for traffic you may not be able to see.
• In heavy rains or thick fog, slow down gradually as soon as you realize the weather is changing. Avoid braking suddenly. You can only respond to things you can see. If you’re driving too fast, you won’t know what you can’t see until you’re right on top of it. You should be able to see a minimum of 20 seconds ahead and you should be able to stop in half the distance you can see. If you have to drop your speed significantly to do that, the weather may be too poor for driving. If you need to stop, find a safe place to pull off the road completely. Keep your trailer lights on to help others spot you as you wait it out. If you have to leave your vehicle, be sure you are dressed for visibility and to stay warm and dry.
• In fog or rain, make sure you can see and be seen. Use your low beams or fog lights, not high beams. Low beams direct light onto the road, whereas high beams reflect light off the precipitation, impairing visibility. Inside your truck, avoid fogged windows by using the defroster and windshield wipers regularly. Keep your windshield washer reservoir full—you’ll need it if you encounter ice fog.
• Be aware that roads are most slippery when it begins to rain as surface oil and grease form a slick film that won’t be washed away for 20 or 30 minutes of hard rain. In mist or a light rain, that greasy slick won’t be washed away at all. If the temperature is close to freezing, remember that bridge decks freeze before road surfaces. Check road reports before you go.
• Read the road as you drive; watch for clues to what’s ahead, especially in unfamiliar territory or when visibility is poor. Even with reduced visibility in bad weather, you can use strategies to maximise the visibility you do have. Using lane markings and treelines can help you determine when the road begins to curve ahead or if it begins to drop down a hill. Use the fog line along the right edge of the road or roadside reflectors as a guide. Watch for slow-moving or stopped vehicles as an indication of trouble ahead. Check out SafetyDriven’s instruction on conducting road safety risk assessments.