Commercial truck drivers are classified as those who transport freight between specified destinations in trucks with load capacities exceeding three tons. If you earn your living in the transporting or trucking industry, you are likely aware of the hazards you face whenever you are on duty. Along with the typical risks of navigating your way along the busy highways of Oklahoma and other states, truckers have to deal with loading, offloading, and keeping their trucks clean and in proper working order while away from the depot.
Statistics indicate that most of the fatalities in this industry result from road accidents. However, many injuries -- ranging from minor to severe -- follow falls, struck-by incidents and other non-crash related events. Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates driving hours to limit accidents caused by sleep deprivation, you may need to take steps to protect your own safety.
Typical hazards you may face
Awareness of potential hazards in the trucking industry may help you to recognize dangerous situations and prepare you for responding adequately. You can take precautions to prevent adverse consequences of the following hazards:
- Accident hazards: In addition to accidents on the roadways, you could face multiple risks if you transport hazardous materials. You could slip or trip and fall from the elevated cabin of the truck or from a trailer or ladder. Being crushed between truck and trailer during the disengaging process is an all too common cause of death among truckers.
- Physical trauma: Headaches and hearing loss can follow prolonged exposure to excessive engine noise, and full-body vibrations in the cab could cause fatigue and impaired musculoskeletal functioning. Further physical hazards include exposure to ultraviolet rays and extreme weather conditions, which could cause frostbite or heat stroke.
- Chemical risks: If the loads you transport include hazardous or toxic materials, accidents or explosions can result in burn injuries. Exposure can lead to dermatitis and other skin diseases, and inhalation of exhaust fumes can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, dust from gravel roads can lead to respiratory problems. If your cargo is biologically hazardous, you may be risking contamination or infection.
- Psychological and social hazards: Isolation from other people's company and missing home and family life can cause psychosocial problems. Furthermore, exposure to crime and violence can increase stress levels.
- Ergonomic dangers: Musculoskeletal disorders like lower back pain can follow uncomfortable body posture combined with prolonged driving. In addition, driving on roads with poor illumination can cause eyestrain and visual discomfort.
While you may do whatever you can to avoid hazards while transporting cargo, there are a myriad of work-related risks that may cause you harm. If you suffer on-the-job injuries, the financial consequences of medical expenses and lost wages may be a cause of great concern. However, you may claim workers' compensation benefits to cover those costs. You will be free to seek the support and guidance of experienced legal counsel to help you navigate the sometimes complicated claims process.