In Washington State, truck drivers experience among the highest rates of workplace injuries, according to a new report from the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). Every year, 1 in 13 truck drivers suffers from a work-related injury serious enough to require missed days of work.
The report, Trucking Industry: Examining Injuries for Prevention, provides information to help employers identify and reduce the most common hazards faced by their employees.
L&I’s Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention initiative, known as SHARP, generated the report. To accompany it, the program also published the companion tip sheets, training and educational tools and maintains the Keep Trucking Safe website and blog to help trucking-industry workers prevent workplace injuries.
The new report covers six years, from 2006 – 2012, and explores the data in half a dozen different trucking sectors.
Among the most common injuries for truckers are sprains, strains and overexertion, costing more than $105 million each year and accounting for 577,000 lost-work days. Nearly 70% of those injuries happened to drivers. Many occurred while connecting or disconnecting a trailer to the truck or opening jammed trailer doors.
Falls also accounted for the most costly claims involving lost-work days.
Caroline Smith, an epidemiologist for SHARP and the lead researcher on the study explained that “injury rates in trucking are far above the state average for all other industries combined. In an industry that continues to be plagued by a shortage of qualified drivers, it’s vital that we keep the ones we have safe and working,” she explained.
Key points from the report include the following:
- There were 52 fatalities among trucking industry employees between 2006 and 2012; most of them were vehicle related. All but one were men.
- Among Washington truck drivers, one in 13 was injured seriously enough that they were unable to work and were compensated for lost-work days, in addition to the costs of medical treatment.
- There were 1.5 million lost-work days for all injuries in Washington’s trucking industry during the report’s time period.
- For the 33,000 workers employed in the trucking industry each year from 2006 through 2012, there were nearly 7,000 lost-work claims.
- Despite increased regulations on hours of service and other monitoring, trucking continues to be one of the most hazardous industries in the country.
SHARP continues to work with trucking industry leaders, safety and health professionals and drivers to identify workplace hazards and low-cost, simple solutions. For example:
- An interactive tool helps drivers prepare for winter travel and remember to be safe when chaining up.
- Workers can test their skill at preventing slips, trips and falls while wearing different kinds of shoes on a variety of surfaces.
- Drivers can learn about health issues common to truck drivers, such as stress and sleep apnea, and get wellness tips on how to fit in exercise and healthy snacks when on the road.