Truck Driver Injury Prevention – Matrack Insights
Life in the trucking industry takes work. Truck drivers face long, tiresome hours of driving. Sitting for so long behind the wheel has drastic impacts on your health. Along with that, a lack of physical fitness and an unfit diet as often observed in truckers. These factors make an individual prone to higher stress levels, muscle tension, etc.
Lifting heavy objects (like loading and unloading goods) can also lead to nerve damage, sprains, and other musculoskeletal diseases. The job can be dangerous – driving heavy commercial vehicles can require strength, skill, and adherence to safe practices.
The trucking industry also has some of the highest compensation claim rates. In some states, these rates are so high that initiatives specifically targeting injury prevention for drivers have been raised. Truck drivers have the highest number of injuries than any other workers.
According to Knestaut, A. Compensation and Working Conditions 1997, about 50 percent of nonfatal injuries in truckers were sprains and muscle tensions caused by the loading and unloading of heavy goods. 1 out of 13 drivers face injuries that are so serious that they miss out on almost six months of work.
What Causes these Injuries?
Some common causes of injuries are listed below. Most truck drivers may have suffered because of these at least a few times in their careers.
- Driving accidents
- Improper grip
- Bad posture due to the long driving hours
- Lifting cargo and heavy goods
- Poor diet
- Poor sleep
- Unsafe driving practices
At least 41 percent of workers’ compensation costs are due to strains and tensions to the neck, shoulders, back, hands, and wrists.
This statistic implies that most of these problems arise from heavy lifting, incorrect posture, and unsafe driving habits. The average cost covered by a claim amounts to $26,000. Injured drivers also lose as many as 180 days of work in case of severe injuries. Delivery persons are four times more prone to work-related injuries.
Additionally, sabbaticals increase the cost of hiring and training. It also leads to decreased productivity among fleets. Sometimes a driver may be unable to return to their job due to a permanent disability caused by an accident or injury.
Common Injuries Faced by Drivers
Some common injuries faced by truck drivers are:
- Body aches
- Muscle tension
- Back, shoulder, and neck strain
- Sprains in ankles or wrists
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Epicondylitis (also known as Tennis Elbow)
- Bruises in palms
- Ligament injuries
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Traumatic injuries
- Fatal injuries
How can Drivers Protect Themselves?
In an on-field industry like this, safety is the main priority. You must take precautions at every turn. Training drivers when you hire them, ensuring basic measures like seatbelts and airbags are in place, and so on. Drivers should always carry appropriate documentation with them. You must secure insurance for your vehicles and maintain them.
Important tips that you must keep in mind for a safer fleet are listed below. These measures will help your drivers be safer on the road. They will also help fleet managers run the fleet more efficiently and keep the team in good condition.
Regular Vehicle Inspections
Ignoring vehicle injuries and problems can cause many problems in the future. These accidents can also cause expensive bills that you may have to bear. However, you can avoid this negative externality with regular checkups of your truck.
Of course, accidents are unavoidable- they happen when you least expect them. However, regularly inspecting your vehicle can reduce the probability of an accident. Identifying a potential problem in your truck allows you to tackle it before it gets any bigger. This measure also increases your driving productivity and awareness.
Maintaining your Vehicle
Inspections and maintenance go hand in hand. If an anomaly is detected, you will resolve it. By regularly maintaining your truck, you remove all problems that may arise. Maintenance also keeps your vehicle in the best shape possible. This change includes regularly changing tires, ensuring the truck is well oiled, overall checkups, checking the breaks and the acceleration, and so on.
Overall, fleet vehicle maintenance leads to higher fleet productivity. With regular servicing, you can repair any problems that may give way to bigger ones in the future. It ensures the entire fleet is at its best, most productive behavior- providing safer jobs and higher returns. Regular maintenance is crucial for the smooth functioning of a fleet.
Communicate with Your Fleet
Reminders are a necessary measure on the manager’s part. Your drivers could be newbies, or they could be driving for 20 years- mistakes still happen, and complacency can also create other bad driving habits.
No driver believes that they can cause an accident on the road. Drivers may overwork themselves or become lethargic. This possibility can be life-threatening for them and anyone driving around them. It can most certainly lead to injuries or lawsuits and will also cost you a lot of money.
So how do you deal with this? You must reach out to your fleet and communicate with them. Hold meetings, check in on them, get them to take periodic tests, etc. This strategy also shows that you care about your drivers and want to protect them. Reinforce safe driving habits and be involved with your fleet’s daily actions.
Firmly Lay Down the Rules
Formulate a list of rules and regulations in writing- it’s always more beneficial to have a written copy of what you expect from them. Include every detail- from hiring policies to training sessions, work hours, what safety practices they should be employing, and what they must do in case something goes wrong.
How does a written list of these things help?
It demonstrates responsibility on the company’s part and shows that you have done everything to ensure their safety. Second, a written manual for your drivers to refer to is quite beneficial. Your drivers will know what to do at all times. Having information in writing prevents it from slipping from your memory as well. If your driver misses an important detail, they can refer to the manual and familiarize themselves again.
Train Your Drivers
Training newly hired drivers introduce them to the trucking industry with the information and skills they need. It ensures they go on the road with knowledge and experience, even if they are beginners. Many drivers are inexperienced and need guidance. Off-the-job training sessions impart this guidance while familiarizing them with the road. It will teach them how to deal with an emergency as well.
Along with that, you should also involve hands-on training. After all, you’d want to see if your newbie is ready for the job or needs more training. Take your newbie for a spin with an experienced professional in the truck to see how they handle real-life situations. It also allows you to test their situational awareness while on the job.
Take Feedback About Your Drivers
Customer feedback helps determine the quality of service provided by your drivers. If their behavior is unsatisfactory, or they exhibit unsafe driving- people can call you and let you know.
For this purpose, many fleets add their contact details near the number plate of the fleet.
With this practice, you will know how your drivers behave on the road. If the feedback is good, you can reward them. You may retrain them or enforce a pay cut if you receive negative feedback.
Using a GPS
A GPS is a truck’s best safety measure. With this technology, you will always know where it is. If an accident occurs, you will know where to send help. Many trackers have different features, which can be very helpful. Some tracking solutions like Matrack can detect harsh driving activity and inform the manager immediately. It also keeps an eye on fuel usage – how much unnecessary fuel your fleet is wasting and how to save it. If your truck wanders off in unsafe areas, it will send you a notification and inform you.
You can set online boundaries on a GPS map for your vehicle. It will send you an alert whenever it enters or exits this boundary. It allows access to different types of information, which you won’t have access to otherwise. Some GPS technologies also track engine health, enhancing your level of safety.
The drivers are a crucial part of a fleet. Their job exposes them to danger very often. As a fleet manager, you are responsible for their safety. Taking safety measures keeps them safe and ensures a higher productivity rate. You can prevent accidents and injuries too. Driver protection is one of the most important considerations for this job.
Creating strategies for their safety also shows that you care about them. It allows them to trust you and strengthens their relationship with you. Communication and coordination go a long way. Different telematics technologies also streamline tasks and make administrative work simpler. Implementing these tips boosts the overall functioning of your fleet. It makes the road a safer place. These tips are easy to understand and enforce.
Integrating them with your policies will save time, bills, and paperwork. Most importantly, it will protect many precious lives from danger.