Like any other job site situation involving heavy equipment, operating or working around dump trucks can pose significant safety risks to your workers, if they aren’t taking proper precautions.
Between 2011 and 2020, 809 workers died from accidental injuries that involved dump trucks. Some of the most common reasons that dump trucks can be so dangerous include:
• They generally are built sturdily and carry heavy loads. This means that they bring a lot of force to collisions.
• Stop-and-go driving makes them unpredictable on the road. Dump trucks frequently stop and turn. They are often out of the flow of traffic and can pose a danger to others when they halt or turn in the middle of the road, especially when driven at higher speeds or without signals.
• Unsteady loads mean unstable trucks. Poorly stacked materials can throw a truck off balance, causing it to tip over or can result in debris flying off the truck and potentially hitting vehicles or people.
Therefore, whether your employees are drivers or assisting at the job site, it’s important that they make safety a priority. Let’s take a look at some basic ways an employer can help reduce the risk of injury to the workforce.
- Prepare and plan for safety. Do you have policies and procedures in place for training staff? Is every work area inspected prior to the beginning of each work day? Have you assigned someone competent to be responsible for ensuring desirable conditions, such as creating traffic patterns and designating dumping areas?
- Implement new technologies that allow for additional warning systems. Cameras and other alert systems have come a long way in providing a driver with additional tools to know what is happening in the “blind spots” around the truck.
- Ensure that every employee is appropriately trained. Training is an essential component of any safety plan. The driver and the ground crew should be knowledgeable about various types of material that is being loaded and unloaded into the truck. They should know how to tarp and un-tarp the vehicle, how to get on and off the equipment safely, where the driver’s blind spots are and about basic mechanical maintenance of the truck.
- Establish best practices. These might include assigning a crew member to be a backup spotter, establishing pre-arranged communication methods, setting sufficient lighting standards for the area, and requiring basic safety rules like wearing seat belts, setting limits on how much can be loaded on a truck or developing specific procedures to ensure awareness about changing site conditions.
This is a starting point for considering dump truck safety. The Centers for Disease Control recently issued a more comprehensive list of strategies and best practices that you can download here.
As with every workplace safety issue, preparation, prevention and training are key to protecting your dump truck operators and crew from danger. Get started today, by creating your safety program with our our help by contacting TSS at firstname.lastname@example.org.