We all know that accidents can happen anytime, especially if you’re a truck driver. No matter how skilled a driver you are, or how careful you drive, you can still get into an accident. And when there’s an accident, it’s likely you could be injured.
The trucking industry has one of the highest Workers Compensation claims rate – both work-related injury claims and illness claims. The Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017’s data shows that the trucking industry has one of the highest total costs of work-related fatal and non-fatal injuries and illnesses per driver. What this data tells us is that hundreds, if not thousands, of truck drivers, suffer from work-related injuries (or even death) in the trucking industry. All it takes is one accident to potentially end your career. Here are some important things to know about truck driver injury prevention.
Rates of Injury
As a truck driver, you probably already know that this profession has a higher risk of work-related injuries. Musculoskeletal and shoulder injuries are very common among truck drivers, due to the long hours on the road. These injuries can cause drivers to miss more work days, not to mention that these injuries are very costly.
Why are truck drivers so prone to injury?
Because truck drivers operate heavy-duty vehicles and spend long periods of time on the road, they’re more at risk for occupational injuries. Some of the most common injuries truck drivers face result from lifting heavy objects, being injured as a result of accidents, overusing the same muscles, gripping the wheel too tight, and developing chronic back pain as a result of being seated for hours at a time.
The cost of Workers Compensation
As we mentioned above, occupational injuries can be very costly especially if the driver is paying out of pocket. The good thing is, in most states, an employer is required to purchase Workers Compensation insurance for its employees, which should cover work-related injuries. This is a benefit that will cover medical costs and will replace income lost by the worker injured while performing his/her duty. Workers Compensation also covers disability and, in some cases, death.
Workers Compensation rates depend on the type of industry you’re in. The trucking industry is among those that have the highest rate due to the risks involved. But in general, Workers Compensation can range from $100 per year per employee up to a thousand dollars per year. Insurance premiums are higher for industries where occupational injuries are most likely to happen, like the trucking industry.
Although Workers Compensation will cover injuries related to work, it does not cover accidents if the accident happened due to the following:
- Psychological stress
- Self-inflicted accident or injury
- An injury that has been inflicted while committing a crime
- Injury due to driver violating the law
- Drug and alcohol-related injuries
Preventing injuries and accidents
Nobody wants to get involved in an accident or get injured, right? It’s not only costly but it could prevent you from doing what you want to do. However, every person who uses his/her body in some capacity can be susceptible to any type of injury or accident.
To help lower the risk, we’ve come up with the following tips to avoid the most common and most expensive work-related accidents and injuries.
One of the major causes of accidents on the road is the lack of sleep or illness. As a truck driver, you might feel pressured to drive a certain number of hours in order to earn more. But you will not be able to function well when you’re tired. Your reflexes are going to be slow, so take a break and rest even for short intervals and stop whenever you’re tired. Remember, you’re life is more important than your cargo.
2. Proper seating position
When you’re tired it’s natural to slouch. But when you do this every day, it can take a toll on your body, especially your back. By simply sitting properly, you’ll be more comfortable driving for several hours. Don’t forget to take a break once in a while and stretch.
3. Speed limit and lane distance
Be aware of your speed limit and your lane distance. Remember, if you have to pass a vehicle in front of you, always pass on the left.
4. Know your truck
Not all trucks have the same size and height so blind spots will vary. That’s why you should carefully note how far the person, the car, or an object really is from your truck.
5. Stay updated on weather and road conditions
If you know what to expect, you can be extra careful when you’re in the area, or plan another route to avoid the affected road.
6. Proper maintenance
Doing this will not only help you prevent accidents and injuries, but it will also save you money on repairs. Yes, it might be your employer’s duty to maintain your truck, but a simple check-up such as looking at the tire pressure, the side mirrors, the turn signals and headlights, and other simple stuff is included in your job. You’ll be the one driving it anyway, so why not take care of it so you’re sure that you’re safe.
Aside from accidents on the road, back, neck and shoulder strains and sprains are also most common among truck drivers because most drivers have to lift and move items in and out of their trucks. A lot also report other hand conditions such as:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome due to a drivers tendency to repeatedly grip the steering wheel very tightly.
- Wrist strain due to opening containers.
Slips and falls from climbing in and out of their truck are common, too, among drivers as well as injuries on docks where they load or unload their items.
There may be some things that you can’t control, yes, but knowing your limits, as well as your truck, are just some of the things where you have full control. If you take care of both your truck and yourself, you may be able to avoid accidents and injuries and you’ll be able to avoid headaches of filing a claim.