Are you one of the 3.5 million commercial truck drivers nationwide? Whether your job as a commercial vehicle operator takes you across state lines or mostly around Bettendorf and other areas in Iowa, you will face multiple safety risks.
Although drivers of tractor-trailers, semis and 18-wheelers risk injuries and fatalities in road accidents, the hazards you face while not driving are significant. If you are aware of all the potential safety risks, you can control those that are controllable and take mitigating steps to protect yourself from the hazards that you cannot control.
Common injuries among truckers
Regardless of the size of the rig you drive, the following injuries are most prevalent on workers’ compensation claims in the transportation industry:
- Slips, trips and falls occur during the loading and unloading cargo and while truck drivers move about on or in the trailer.
- Overexertion and fatigue compromise the alertness of truck operators, making them more vulnerable to making mistakes that cause injuries.
- Struck-by and crushing injuries include making contact with equipment or objects.
- Transportation injuries, including road accidents, pose significant threats, although the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports this injury category to account for only 14% of trucking injuries.
Precautions you can take
You spend a significant portion of each work shift behind the wheel of your truck, risking ergonomic injuries due to long hours sitting in one position. That is a controllable hazard because you can adjust the seat, the position of the steering wheel, and your distance from the controls to suit your body.
However, many of the risks you face are outside of the truck, and the following precautions might keep you out of the hospital:
- Physical fitness is crucial, especially if your duties include loading and unloading of cargo. To counteract the many hours you spend sitting, you need to take care of your health and physical fitness.
- Lifting heavy loads after sitting for hours is the best route to overexertion. You can prevent musculoskeletal injuries by doing a few stretching exercises before loading and unloading and asking for help instead of taking on heavy loads on your own.
- Wear gloves to protect your hands and fingers from crush injuries. The best way to avoid pinch points is not to put your hands where you cannot see them.
- Avoid parking close to moving traffic to unload your truck and wear a reflective vest. Too many truckers have lost their lives after being struck by other vehicles.
- Survey the area around your vehicle before you exit the cab. Walking surfaces, outside and in or on your trailer, can pose slip or trip hazards, so wearing non-slip shoes that also support your ankles would be a wise choice.
How will you deal with a serious injury?
You might find comfort in the knowledge that the Iowa workers’ compensation program will have your back if you suffer a work-related injury. However, the benefits claims process could be challenging and even more so if you were injured while on a trip across state lines. You can seek the support and guidance of an experienced Iowa workers’ compensation attorney who could navigate the claims process in pursuit of maximum applicable benefits on your behalf.