The most frequent cause of injuries for drivers are slips and falls from tractors and trailers. For the most part, this is caused by drivers failing to enter or exit their vehicles properly.
Did you realize that jumping from the tractor or trailer without using steps and grab rails can cause very serious, if not debilitating, injuries to ankles, knees, hips and back? Such injuries are the result of the increased impact forces on joints. Studies found that when a driver did not properly exit the tractor, the impact to his/her joints increased to a range from 7.1 up to a maximum of 12 times the body’s weight. But when correctly utilizing the grab rails and steps, the average impact forces were reduced to 1.4 times the body’s weight – an 80 per cent reduction.
The key to safely entering and exiting tractors or trailers is to use the “3 points of contact” system. It is quite simple, when entering or exiting the cab, your body should always face the inside of the cab and have at least 3 of your 4 appendages securely anchored. For example: one foot on the ground, the other foot on the first step and a hand on the handhold; both feet on the steps plus one hand on a secure handhold; or both hands on handholds and one foot on the step. This same procedure should be used when climbing up or down on the catwalk.
To reduce strain, remember to use your body’s largest muscle groups – the legs and hips to lift you up or down, instead of trying to pull yourself up with your arms and shoulders.
Watch out for slippery surfaces on or around the unit. Steps, grab rails, gratings, frame rails as well as ground surfaces can be extra slippery when accumulations of oil, moisture, snow or ice are present.
Utilizing this simple, common sense approach will help safeguard you from injuries.