Preventing Trucking Injuries

Did you know that the trucking industry has some of the highest workers’ compensation claim rates due to its high frequency of injuries?  In the United States, in Washington State alone, claims are so high that there is an initiative for preventing on the job injuries while promoting safety.  They call it, the called the TIRES Initiative.

Injury rates in trucking are way above the state average for all other professional industries combined.  Each year, 1 in 13 truck drivers in Washington state has a work-related injury serious enough that they have to miss work for a long period of time.

Truck drivers had more nonfatal injuries (over 151,000) than workers in any other occupation in 1995.  50% of the nonfatal truck accident injuries were serious sprains and strains; this may be attributed to the fact that many truck drivers must unload the goods they transport. (Source: According to Knestaut, A. Compensation and Working Conditions, 1997, Fall)

Work-related strains and sprains are injuries to muscles, tendons and nerves that are referred to by doctors and researchers as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).  Strains and sprains can have many causes and each additional risk factor increases the likelihood of truck accident injuries. Some of these injuries are due to:

  • Overexertion
  • Contact with or being struck by an object
  • Falling
  • Transportation accidents
  • Repetitive use without adequate rest
  • Lifting heavy or awkward objects or boxes
  • Awkward postures such as reaching overhead for long periods of time
  • Gripping something tightly

Work-related strains and sprains are the most costly and most frequent injuries in the trucking industry.

Sprains, strains and overexertion accounted for the most trucking-related injuries, with costs exceeding $107 million and resulting in 576,000 lost-work days. About 70 percent of these injuries were to drivers. Many of the injuries occurred while connecting or disconnecting a trailer to the truck or opening stuck trailer doors.

Strains and sprains include:

  • Back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Muscle strain
  • Tendonitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS)
  • Tennis elbow (epicondylitis)
  • Other common trucker injuries include bruises, fractures, cuts and lacerations, soreness and pain, and multiple traumatic injuries.

Of all these, the most common situations where truck accident injuries occur include:

  • Vehicle accidents
  • Carpal tunnel injury
  • Strained wrists from opening hard to open containers
  • Strains and back injuries from lifting and moving items or releasing 5th wheel to remove tractor from trailer
  • Slip and falls climbing in or out of the cap or trailer
  • Accidents while loading or unloading trailer
  • Slip and falls on docks
  • Crush injuries where part of load falls on driver
  • Costs

Workers’ compensation costs

  • 41% of compensable claims are the result of strains and sprains to the neck, back and upper extremity (shoulders, elbows, hands/wrists)
  • The average cost for a claim is over $26,000
  • Average of 184 time-loss days
  • Compared to other industries
  • Couriers have almost four times the rate of work-related strains and sprains claims of all industries combined. Waste Collection has three and a half times the rate and General Freight trucking is close with almost two and a half times the rate of work-related strains and sprains of all other industries combined.

Additional costs

Work-related strains and sprains also increase the cost of hiring and training, increase turnover and decrease productivity. Sometimes workers are unable to return to their full wage jobs after such an injury or require extensive life-altering surgeries or treatments to recover

Take Steps to Equip truck drivers and operators with the proper tools needed to help them avoid injury.

To help offset these unwanted expenses we introduce OPNBar, a 3 in 1 shipping container safety leverage tool, tire thumper (aka tire beater), and 5th wheel release handle. Our product was originally designed for opening and closing truck trailers and shipping container doors with the safety for the operator foremost in mind. The OPNBar trucker tool, for instance can help avoid some injuries by providing an ergonomic means of opening shipping containers, checking for low pressure tires, and aiding operators in releasing the tractor from the trailer.

Educate truckers, equip them with the right tools, and teach them good health habits to keep them safe and healthy.  These simple precautions can help companies avoid unexpected fees and missed work days.