The American Trucking Association reported that the number of truck operators in Pennsylvania and across the United States exceeds 3.5 million. If you are one of them, then this is for you. Many hours behind the wheel of a big rig takes its toll on your body and mind. However, you are equally as vulnerable when you are not on the road.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says fatality rates among truck drivers are higher than in any other occupation. You might be surprised to learn that road accidents are not the most significant hazards you will encounter.
Injury risks truckers face
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the following injuries cause a significant number of lost workdays in the trucking industry, regardless of whether you operate a tractor-trailer or a delivery vehicle:
- Injuries resulting from highway accidents while in transit
- Struck-by injuries that result from contact with equipment or objects
- Slips, trips and falls, which can often cause Injuries while loading and unloading the trucks
- Bodily reaction to overexertion, including musculoskeletal injuries caused by many hours of sitting in one position
If you know which hazards you face, you can take steps to avoid injuries. Acknowledging that you are vulnerable both on and off the road is crucial when you become involved in physically unloading the goods you haul.
Your tasks outside your truck’s cab pose various injury risks. You may stay safe by mitigating the following dangers:
- Dropped object risks: Wear boots with steel toecaps to prevent crushed toes in the event of a dropped object.
- Slips, trips and falls: Make sure your shoes have non-slip soles and provide ankle support when you get in and out of the cab or the trailer. Walking about delivery areas could pose slip and trip hazards, and the same risk exists in your trailer.
- Hand injuries: Do not lose sight of potential hand injuries. Wear protective gloves to prevent pinch point injuries.
- Struck by other vehicles: Take extra care when you unload cargo to places without dedicated loading and unloading bays. If you park your truck where traffic hazards exist, make sure you wear a reflective vest to alert other drivers.
- Beware of heavy lifting: After hours of driving, heavy physical lifting poses musculoskeletal injury risks. Do warm-up movements and stretching before lifting objects, and ask for help to lift heavy objects when necessary.
- Physical health and shape: The nature of your job has you sitting behind the wheel for endless hours, with little time for exercise. You can mitigate injury risks by staying as fit as possible and maintaining a healthy diet — which is never easy when you eat truck-stop foods.
Avoiding known dangerous situations and mitigating those out of your control might be enough to get you home safely after each long-haul trip. However, injuries can be life-altering in the blink of an eye. Although the workers’ compensation insurance system promises to have your back, obtaining maximum benefits might prove challenging. This is where the skills of an experienced Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorney come in. While you focus on recovering, legal counsel can navigate the benefits claim on your behalf.