Truck Drivers Preventing Injuries
Every job has its risks. Even people who work at a desk all day are liable to find themselves afflicted with Carpal Tunnel syndrome; working with kids or being a stay at home mom or dad runs the risk of hair pulls and kicks during temper tantrums; and truckers are more prone to sprains, strains, over-exertions, and slips, trips, and falls.
In 2006, the state of Washington conducted a survey that asked truckers questions about their jobs and analyzed the answers in order to determine the types of injuries that truckers might face on the job. Although the survey results did point to the fact that trucking is a hazardous job, more importantly, it allowed researchers to develop a list of methods that truckers can use to prevent injury on the job.
The survey involved truckers from small fleets, large fleets, and owner-operators who had an average of 17.5 years of experience, and those who belonged to unions as well as those who did not. Truckers came from a variety of sub-classifications within the trucking industry, including couriers, local delivery, general freight, and waste collectors. Because of the variety used when collecting data, the survey results, and suggestions for preventing injury, are applicable to most drivers.
According to the report, driving time is the least hazardous of the tasks truckers must perform. Drivers who spent more than 25 percent of their time working with cargo, or unloading and loading the truck, were twice as likely to report pain. Although loading and unloading is part of the territory, the report recommends that truckers be careful and consider their physical needs and limitations when working on tasks other than driving. Although some truckers may be tempted to speed through loading and unloading in order to get back on the road and start making money, moving too fast might be causing some real pain.
The survey also pointed out that many truckers feel pressured to work long hours at a fast pace. Although drivers don’t want to loose their jobs or take negative flack from their bosses, they need to be aware of their limitations and rights, being sure not to work more hours than they can handle.
Another factor that the survey found affecting workers’ reported injuries was job satisfaction. Some drivers love their jobs while others just see driving a truck as a way to earn much needed cash, but truckers that are happy with their jobs and the environment that they work in report higher levels of injury free days. On the employers’ side of the industry, a safe working environment is essential for drivers’ safety.
For all injuries and their causes, the report suggested reporting injuries early, as this may prevent further complications.
Although much of the burden for preventing injuries falls on the employer, employees, by knowing their bodies and exercising caution when working, can have a hand in prevention as well.