Winter is the time of the year when a lot of safety directors focus on winter driving hazards. Even though winter driving safety should be addressed to drivers for the next couple of months, winter weather brings in these hazards that extend beyond the roadway. A lot of companies experience a spike when it comes to workers’ compensation claims during the winter months. This is the result of winter hazards that are completely unrelated to driving trucks. Slips and falls are the injuries that are most likely to happen to truck drivers during the winter.
Unsafe Winter Driving Habits of Truck Drivers
Not clearing windows, mirrors, clearance lights, and tail lights
Not reacting soon enough to trouble ahead
Not checking cross traffic before reaching and travelling through intersections.
Not keeping brakes in proper working conditions
Not keeping tires in good, inflated condition
Driving while fatigued
Not anticipating changes in road or weather conditions
Failing to maintain enough following distance
Still driving when the conditions are unsafe
Snow, ice, rain, and even morning dew can cause great potential for slipping and falling. Before getting inside their trucks, drivers should be instructed to clean handholds, steps, and truck platforms. And before exiting their trucks, they should also keep extra caution. Carpets should not be installed inside the steps of the tractor to keep it clean. This is because these carpets can freeze in cold conditions, and can be very slippery during the wet weather.
Clean cabs are necessary for safety. Drivers should not use trash bags to keep their floors clean. Also, loose wires from CB radios and cellphones can catch the driver’s foot upon exit, so drivers should keep these things off the floor.
A three-point contact climbing method should be used. The driver should keep three limbs in contact with the handholds or the steps. These three limbs can be both one hand and two feet, or two hands and one foot. Just in case a hand or a foot slips, then the two limbs will still be in contact with the vehicle to catch the driver.
The hookup area located at the back of the cab is the source of many slips and falls. Drivers should place their feet firmly on the surface of the catwalk, and use a secure handhold. This leaves the other hand free to do the work.
Jumping should also be avoided.
Keep hands free. Drivers shouldn’t carry items while getting inside or outside of the cab, so their hands can freely use the grab rails.
Always face the equipment. Drivers are usually tempted to exit the cab while facing forward. This can make the three-point climbing method awkward. Facing the truck increases the driver’s control.
Keep equipment in good condition. These pre- and post- trip inspections should include steps, deck plates, and grab rails. Repairs should be done right away.
Select proper footwear. Drivers should wear sturdy footwear with slip-resistant soles.
With proper planning and preparation, driving through harsh winter conditions can be successful.