Truck drivers understandably spend many long hours on the road each week, so the possibility of work-related injury on the road is significant. Hiring experienced drivers with excellent driving records and providing regular and mandatory training sessions on roadway safety can decrease driving-related accidents and injuries. However, your workers are also exposed to other risks on the job.
According to the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, more than 50,000 deaths annually are attributed to workplace exposure. Many additional workers experience minor or serious injuries. These cause employees pain and suffering, and these injuries also potentially result in a financial loss to the employees and employers. While accidents on the job are unintentional by definition, many of them can be prevented when you take a few essential steps.
Identifying Risks for Workplace Injuries
In most work environments, drivers do not merely begin their shift as soon as they slide behind the wheel. Furthermore, they do not spend their entire workday on the road. Instead, they may spend time loading and unloading a truck or taking other actions outside of the vehicle. They may begin their workday in a warehouse facility or on your company’s grounds. Identifying risks that they are exposed to throughout the workday is an essential first step to take to mitigate the risk of injuries on the job. Some of these may include:
- Improper techniques used to lift and carry heavy items
- Lifting heavier items that they can manage
- Tripping or slipping and falling
- Fire risks
- Exposure to noxious fumes
Observe your drivers in action across all stages of their shifts. While some of these risks described above may pertain to your workplace, observation may reveal additional risks that are unique to your workplace and that are not included in the list above.
Providing Exceptional Safety Training Sessions
Identifying specific risk factors in your workplace is only the first step to take to mitigate those risks. Many accidents and injuries can be avoided when your team is appropriately trained. Commonly, new employees are required to attend a safety training session or watch a workplace safety video before starting their regular activities. However, your efforts should not end there. At least once per year, all of your truck drivers should be required to attend another safety session. Take time to update the content of these sessions so that they provide your drivers with the latest information and tips available.
These sessions also should introduce and reinforce your company’s safety guidelines and procedures. If you have not already created a written set of processes, now is the right time to do so. These procedures should cover all identified risks, and employees should sign documentation that they have read the methods and understand them thoroughly. As new risks are identified or when your operations change, these procedures should be updated, and your team should be trained on new procedures as soon as possible.
Equipping Your Team with Safety Tech and Gear
You are required to provide your employees with a safe work environment. Depending on their responsibilities and the risk factors that they are exposed to, you may need to provide them with essential safety gear, such as lifting belts or safety helmets. You may also need to require them to meet specific wardrobe requirements. For example, you may require the use of work shoes or boots that have a particular type of non-slip sole, and they may need to furnish themselves with these items.
Technology has also evolved dramatically in this area and can be used to help you keep your team as safe as possible. Training apps and online platforms enable your team to brush up on safety techniques and practices as needed. They do not need to wait for the next seminar or ask a co-worker who may also be uncertain about safety procedures. Instead, the employee can spend a few minutes watching a video that your company has custom-made. If these are accessible via their smartphone, they may brush up on important topics during their shift as needed.
Ensuring Superior Oversight and Consequences
Even when employees are well-trained and have access to the latest gear and supplies, they may not always follow procedures or use the equipment available to them. You must have an oversight structure in place so that violations of requirements can be identified and documented. Furthermore, a permanent penalty structure must be in place for violating safety rules and conditions. For example, a specific number of violations may result in termination.
The management team responsible for oversight may also be tasked with identifying risks that are not yet covered by the current safety guidelines so that updates can be made. Besides, these professionals can provide on-the-job safety tips when risk factors are identified.
Creating an Effective Process for Handling Workplace Injuries
These steps can drastically reduce your company’s and team’s exposure to risk related to workplace injuries, but some accidents may still occur. In many instances, prompt medical attention may reduce the severity of the injury and promote the best possible outcome. Therefore, creating an effective process for handling these injuries is essential. Commonly, the most critical step is for the worker to receive immediate medical attention, but the employee also must file paperwork related to the injury as soon as possible. Worker’s comp regulations dictate some of these guidelines, but you may also establish internal rules and guidelines to ensure that your team receives adequate care as soon as possible.
The risk of on-the-road injuries to truck drivers is significant, but you can see that many other hazards are present as well. After you have identified specific risks that drivers face on your property and throughout their workday, you can create a comprehensive mitigation plan. By doing so, you can reduce your team’s exposure to injury accidents, and you can reduce your company’s exposure to liability issues and related costs.