Preventing Falls in the Trucking Industry

Falls while securing or adjusting the load, tarp or straps; opening or closing containers; fixing lights or wiper blades and other maintenance tasks, while working on docks and staging areas are a significant cause of trucking company injuries and workers’ compensation claims.

Design Considerations

A safe means of cab access and getting on and off trailer and cargo areas is important in preventing falls. Well-designed steps and grab handles should be an important consideration in purchasing new equipment. Steps and handhold or grab bars should be located within easy reach. Steps should incorporate a non-slip design and be wide enough to maintain a secure foothold.

Avoid Climbing onto the Truck or Load

Where practical, systems and equipment that allow people to work from the ground should be used. Handling tarps on top of a bulky load is a major hazard. Falls can be prevented by using drive through access platforms or automatic tarping systems. Provide training on the proper use of platforms. If trucks are loaded at sites without safer methods for fitting tarps, consider alternative safety measures such as curtainside trailers or conestoga-style soft-sided trailer systems. The use of tarping aids not only prevents falls and material handling injuries, but also reduces the risk of cargo shifting or falling during transport.

Special Purpose Vehicles

On special purpose vehicles, both a means of access and walkways where people can move around the vehicle may be required. Where the means of access is fixed to the vehicle it should:

• Be located as close as possible to the area(s) requiring access

• Be securely fixed and of rigid construction

• Be vertical and slope inward toward the top

• Have horizontal rungs providing adequate foothold

Snow and Ice Conditions

Snow and ice conditions greatly increase the likelihood of slips and falls. Take steps to control your employees’ exposure while on your premises. All walking surfaces must be kept clear of any slippery accumulation. Use sand or salt as necessary. Docks, stairs and raised platforms need special attention. Regardless of where they’re based, all OTR drivers are likely to encounter snow and ice conditions at some point. Although you can control the condition of walking surfaces at your premises, you can’t control the environment your drivers are likely to encounter while on the road. Drivers should be required to wear nonslip boots. In addition to appropriate footwear, driver awareness is key. As winter approaches, include this discussion in your routine communications and driver training. Timely reminders of changing seasons and changing conditions can make a difference.

Shipping Dock Falls

Many trucking industry falls happen at loading docks and staging areas. They are frequently congested, heavy-traffic areas where working and walking surfaces are often wet. Metal dock plates can wear smooth and become very slippery; and the edge of a dock plate can also cause trips and falls. Portable railings, which can be easily removed from the edge of the dock and replaced once the trailer leaves, could prevent many dangerous falls. Amps and gang-planks should have gradual lopes, skid-resistant surfaces and be as wide and as dry as possible. Keep the dock areas clean and free of debris. Make sure dock boards or plates and dock levelers are in good repair and provide a level, secure and safe access from dock to trailer. Provide proper ladders if employees need to climb up or down to a dock area. Train all employees who work in dock areas on the hazards. Wheels should be chocked during all loading and unloading operations, and the engine should be turned off, parking brakes set and transmission in low gear during loading/unloading.

Safety Tips to Prevent Falls

• Use equipment provided to avoid working on top of vehicles or loads

• If working at heights is unavoidable, use fixed steps or stairs for access. Do not use mudguards or wheels.

• Where possible, always conduct work from the ground

• Special care is needed when snow and ice are present. Walking surfaces that are normally safe can become a major slip hazard with just a light coating of snow or ice

• Do not jump from cabs, trailers or other elevated positions

• Replace or repair damaged, loose or inadequate steps and handholds; damaged or broken flooring in vans/ flatbeds; and damaged or broken tarping devices

• Train all employees, including truck drivers, lumpers and shipping and staging employees, on how to prevent falls

The content of this material has been taken in large art from information published by the Federal Motor arrier Safety Administration. For more information, go to

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, or call 1-877-832-1835.

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