Tips to Avoid Slips

The penalty for driving under the influence of impairing medications is the same as an alcohol DUI in most states.

Are your drivers complaining about back pain, or just not feeling well? Has a driver ever tripped and fell, only to get right back up into the driver’s seat and complete their day with pain?

The life of a truck driver is not a life out of harm’s way. Any size and type of motor vehicle can be a dangerous piece of machinery. Drivers face many job hazards, and most of them originate in or next to the vehicle. Drivers may fall while entering and exiting the cab, they may slip in a puddle of oil behind their vehicle, they may pull their shoulder unlocking the fifth wheel jaws, or they may even be hit in the face with the trailer doors during a gust of wind. Drivers often participate in a great amount of manual labor inside and outside the truck, and if they don’t follow preventative safety procedures, injury may occur. The pain succumbed from these injuries can easily interfere with safe driving. While under the influence of pain, drivers must retain a driving position and maintain alertness to prevent further injury or mental and physical distractions that are caused by the pain

A large issue with injuries on the road is that drivers are often far away from their destinations or homes. They are incentivized by their paycheck to stay on the road to avoid losing time and money. Management must make their position on driver injuries clear so drivers do not feel overly pressured to finish a haul when they are under the influence of pain.

The most common injuries occur from slips, trips and falls. The number one way to prevent these injuries is to require non-slip shoes for your employees. There are certain parts of the job that are more dangerous than the rest. Drivers must be aware of the hazards and be familiar with the safety protocols for these procedures:

  • • Use of a proper 3-point system while entering/exiting a tractor and trailer
  • • Safe lifting/carrying
  • • Cranking trailer landing gear/moving trailer dollies
  • • Using proper walkways, and paying attention to the terrain to prevent slips, trips and falls

Problems from Driving

Most people underestimate the extent to which small issues can build into lasting injuries. For this reason, a driver must focus on the actions they do the most while operating the vehicle. The action of sitting behind the wheel is one drivers have done likely thousands of times before. This action causes many soft-tissue injuries that may compound into larger pain. Training and maintaining their lower backs in the driver’s seat, an ongoing action, will make it much easier for them to deal with larger tasks such as bending and lifting. Drivers must focus on their driving position and eliminate any pain associated with driving however minute it might be, because the pain will augment and eventually cause lasting problems.

Back issues can stem from an improper driving position. In order to best prevent back pain and strain, follow these guidelines when adjusting yourself in the driver’s seat:

  • • Ensure as much of your thighs are supported by the seat as possible.
  • • Don’t sit too far away from the pedals, as this may put additional strain on the upper back and neck.
  • • Adjust the steering wheel so that you can reach it with bent arms with the hands in the 10 and 2 position.
  • • If you have lumbar support, adjust it so it presses gently on the lower back at belt height.

Once your seat is properly adjusted, consider these techniques to minimize and avoid lower back pain while driving:

  • If the truck seat does not supply enough lumbar support, the driver could consider an appropriate lumbar support device.
  • Consider sitting on a pillow made for a chair to provide extra cushioning between you and the road.
  • Keep an ice pack/cold pack in the fridge of your cab or pick up ice at a truck stop and apply to the lower back to reduce inflammation and numb sore tissues. Use a barrier between the skin and the ice to avoid ice burn.
  • When possible, stop regularly. Get out of the truck and move around.
  • Avoid heavy bending and lifting immediately after driving. This is when the back and other joints are most susceptible to injury. Drivers should see a physician or a personal trainer for ideas on simple stretches to warm up and prepare muscles for activity after a prolonged sitting.

Back pain is not the only pain that can be caused by driving. Shoulder or neck pain can also be caused by gripping the steering wheel too tightly. Avoid this by trying to relax the muscles while driving, keeping elbows bent and sitting closer to the wheel. The more you have to reach to steer, the more strain you put onput on the shoulders and neck.

One way drivers cope with pain is with pain medications, either prescription (Rx) or over-the-counter (OTC). Some medications, when taken alone or in combination with others, can have the same impairing effects as alcohol or illicit drugs. The penalty for driving under the influence of impairing medications is the same as an alcohol DUI in most states. The dangerous effects that can directly impair a trucker’s ability to drive include anxiety, blurred vision, chest pain, confusion, dizziness, disorientation, drowsiness, muscle cramps, nausea, irritability and fatigue. Before taking any medication, especially before driving, understand the potential side effects and consult with a physician or pharmacist to determine if there are other medications that will not affect driving. Even standard OTC cough and cold remedies can impair driving.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety created a program called Roadwise Rx. This is a free, informative tool that motorists can use to see how their medication can affect safe driving. Roadwise Rx highlights the potential driving effects of medications, in addition to showing users the potential interactions their medications may have with other medications or with common foods. Print and keep a copy of your medication list so it’s available in the event of an emergency. Discuss Roadwise Rx results and your list of medications with your doctor, who can help optimize medication dosage and timing to ensure safe driving will not be affected.

Bottom line: Drivers and their managers must understand how pain can affect drivers by causing decreased physical or mental alertness. Driving under the influence of pain IS distracted driving.

  • Categorized in:
  • Transportation Safety
  • Driving Techniques
  • Injury Prevention
  • Workplace Safety