“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.
Lifting or manually moving heavy objects puts workers at risk for overexertion injuri ...
es, especially to the back. Use proper procedures and equipment to avoid the pain!
Everyone experiences back pain at some point. Most back pain comes from simple muscle irritation with pain centered in the neck, upper or lower back, or down into the buttocks and thighs. Back pain can also come from a sudden movement—you trip, try to grab something as it falls, or jump out of the way of something. That sudden movement can be very damaging to the back.
Overexertion is the main cause of work-related injury for truck drivers in general trucking; it accounts for 24% of all claims by truck drivers. On average, more than 200 drivers suffer overexertion injuries each year, with 30% resulting from handling heavy objects. In moving and storage, overexertion is the leading cause of work-related injuries for truck drivers, with 60% caused by handling heavy object.
Manual material handling—lifting and carrying heavy objects, pushing or pulling pallet jacks, carts, and dollies—is the main cause of overexertion injuries. Your risk of back injury and pain increases if you frequently lift heavy loads, carry heavy objects for long distances, carry an object far out in front of you, or lifting improperly when picking up something heavy from the floor. The scale of injury is influenced by the weight, size, and shape of objects and the way objects are handled, such as posture, bending, twisting, and repetition.
Occupational Health and Safety at Human Resources and Skills Development Canada offers these recommendations for manual material handling:
• If possible, eliminate repetitive work and automate jobs involving repetitive tasks
• Use mechanical handling equipment, such as hand trucks, lift trucks, and conveyors
• Reconfigure workstations to avoid awkward postures
• Decrease the weight of objects handled
• Add grips to objects being handled
• Use personal protective equipment, such as belts, braces, leg guards, and anti-fatigue matting
• Use safe lifting techniques
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety also recommends:
• Reducing risk by considering and managing ergonomics, engineering, the work environment, and human capabilities
• Reducing injury-causing movements such as reaching, bending, or twisting by keeping tools and materials at work level, eliminating deep shelves, and ensuring sufficient space for manoeuvring loads
• Pacing yourself to avoid tension in the body that makes muscles more injury-prone
• Improving work site conditions such as good lighting for greater visibility
Be sure you have learned the proper techniques for manual material handling and talk to your supervisor if you have questions.