Truckers are constantly aware of the dangers they face on the road and take pride in their professional behavior. But just to get personal, do you, as a professional driver, also know some simple ideas which can make you a little safer when you’re out of your truck?
First of all, there’s the old standby – have a three-point dismount when you leave your truck cab. You know what that means – either have both your hands gripping a safety bar or door handle and one foot flat on the floor or step, or one hand gripping with both your feet securely placed on the steps. Don’t just jump out of your truck; you could injure your foot, legs or back with one leap.
It’s also a good idea to take a look before you get out – are you stepping out onto ice? Into mud? Maybe a hole that’s under the mud? If you can re-position your truck so you don’t have to step into a puddle of icy water, do so. As the weather gets worse during the year, whether snow or rainy season, keep an extra pair of work shoes (preferably steel-toed) and socks in your cab so you can change if water does slosh into your footwear.
Once you’re at the dock, keep an eye on any fork lifts moving around the area. And here’s a plan-ahead idea: do you know how to safely turn off a fork lift if it’s turned over? What should you do if the driver’s pinned underneath, besides call for help? Are there steps you can take to help the fork lift operator without putting yourself in danger? Ask the safety director at your carrier to talk about these first-responder actions at your next safety meeting. You could save a fork lift operator’s life, legs or arms.
Watch the dock doors, too. An OTR trucker nearly lost a finger when he absent-mindedly wrapped the rope around his hand several times to get a better grip on the rope to close the door. Another trucker ran up to help and manually closed the door, not realizing the OTR trucker had his hand wrapped in the rope. Even with gloves on, it was a bad rope burn and deep cut for the OTR trucker, which required stitches to close.
Don’t step onto a moving lift gate, either. Wait until it’s stopped – many of them give a little jerk as they settle into locked position, and especially if you’ve got your hands full, you could lose your balance and fall. Just a few inches’ fall can cause a sprained ankle or worse, a twisted back. Lift gates can get slick from tracked-on ice and snow, so watch for freezing puddles of water during bad weather too.
If you have a dedicated run, you can learn the hazards your shipper, often unknowingly, presents to you during pickup or delivery – and watch for them. If the dock plate is damaged or no longer set evenly, ask a dock worker if the company’s aware of it. If the lighting’s bad, mention that to someone too. If the shipper has a new fork lift operator who drives like a NASCAR professional (or thinks he does), then tell your safety director. He can get the word back to the shipper without anyone knowing who noticed the danger.
Your own safety is always your first concern. But you can make your life safer on the dock by just being a little more watchful. And you could help other people along the way too.