Do you transport goods between destinations in Oklahoma and other states in a truck with a load capacity that exceeds three tons? Then you count as a commercial truck operator. Many people think that road accidents are the only safety hazards that come across the roads of truckers, and they might be surprised to learn how many other dangers you face. Labor authorities list bruises, strains, sprains, lacerations, cuts and fractures as common injuries of employees in this industry.
Along with trucking accidents, overexertion after remaining seated for many hours or doing manual handling during loading procedures causes some of these injuries. Contact with equipment while you do repairs to the truck and falling while descending or climbing into the cab of the truck are also safety risks. Furthermore, navigating your big rig in inclement weather is hazardous, often exacerbated by poor road conditions.
Some hazards truckers face
If you are familiar with the following potential hazards, you might find ways to avoid injuries:
- Physical hazards: Excessive engine noise can cause terrible headaches as an immediate consequence and potential hearing loss after long-term exposure. You can suffer fatigue from whole-body vibrations you experience in the cab, and it could even adversely affect your musculoskeletal functions. Ultraviolet radiation exposure is another threat, and extremely cold or hot climatic conditions can lead to frostbite or heat stroke — especially if your truck breaks down and you have to wait for help to arrive.
- Accident hazards: While crashes and collisions pose significant hazards, other accidents can threaten your safety. Depending on your cargo, accident hazards could include leaking or spillage of flammable substances. Toxic substances or explosives can cause acute intoxication, explosions or chemical burns, and carbon monoxide poisoning can follow exposure to exhaust fumes. Accidental slips and trips can cause falls from the trailer or tall cabin, and your truck might crush you against the trailer if something goes wrong when you disengage it.
- Chemical hazards: If you transport hazardous chemicals, exposure could cause skin diseases, and inhaling toxic fumes can cause respiratory problems. Long-term exposure to exhaust fumes and dust can cause chronic lung problems.
- Ergonomic hazards: The uncomfortable posture of your body during endless hours on the road will set you up for musculoskeletal disorders, such as lower back pain, and driving in the dark on poorly illuminated roads can cause visual discomfort.
- Biological hazards: If you transport cargo that is biologically hazardous, you will be at risk of contamination or infection.
- Psychosocial hazards: If your load is valuable, you might be the target of criminal violence, and some roadside truck stops also pose threats of physical violence. The isolation you feel during extended absences from your loved ones may cause psychological discomfort.
Help is available
Even though you are familiar with the hazards of trucking, years of operating big rigs will likely take a toll on your physical and psychological health. Fortunately, the Oklahoma workers' compensation insurance system offers benefits to cover your medical expenses and some of your lost wages if you are unable to work for some time. Some injured truck operators choose to utilize the services of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to take over the navigation of their benefits claims to allow them to focus on recovering.