Safety Advisor: Three Points of Contact

Slips and falls are a common cause of injury in the transportation industry. While entering or exiting a truck or trailer are common causes of employee falls, there are many other exposures to be aware of. This Sentry Safety Advisor discusses some of these exposures and how to reduce them, and provides information in establishing a “three points of contact” rule for your operation.

Exposures

Drivers, mechanics and other employees are exposed to slippery tractor steps, tractor deck plates, catwalks, trailer ladders, and other hazards. Slips and falls can be caused by a loss of footing, incorrect footwear, improper balance, over-reaching, moving carelessly on catwalks, poor housekeeping and other factors.

One of the most dangerous things an employee can do is face away from the equipment when climbing up or down. To reduce the chances of a fall, employees should always be facing the equipment and start up or down with the proper foot first so that they’re positioned correctly on the last step (see below). Also, employees should never jump from a step, trailer or other piece of equipment.

Three Points of Contact Rule

All employees should know and follow the three points of contact rule:

Always maintain contact with at least three limbs when entering or exiting equipment, climbing ladders, etc. This means that a minimum of two hands and a foot or one hand and two feet must be in contact with the equipment or ground surface at all times to avoid slips and falls.

The Steps for Safe Entry

Stow your paperwork and gear

The three points of contact rule requires you to have both hands free before you begin any entering, exiting or climbing movement. Properly stow all paperwork and gear prior to entering, exiting or climbing.

Check walking surfaces

Stepping surfaces must be cleared of debris, tools, snow, ice and other hazards.

Position yourself properly

With the door of the tractor cab open, stand next to the tractor door square with the open doorway, facing the tractor steps.

That first step

The first step determines how your last step will finish. Determine which foot is the proper one to start with while keeping in mind that having to cross over your feet or twist adds to the slip and fall hazard.

Establish contact with all four limbs when entering a cab

Keep both feet on the ground, reach up with your right hand and get a firm grip on the cab-mounted grab rail (not the door frame or door itself). Reach up with your left hand and get a firm grip on the door-mounted grab rail. You are now ready to break ground contact with one foot. As you progress, never have less than three points of contact.

Slips and falls cause many of the most severe injuries for employees. Training all employees in the three points of contact rule is one step in minimizing your exposure. In addition to training, using proper footwear and appropriate walking surfaces can help control these hazards.

Sentry Insurance is committed to helping you protect your business by providing resources to manage loss-producing situations and prevent accidents. For additional information visit ForTruckersOnly.com, or call 1-877-832-1835.

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