Safely entering and exiting a cab of a prime mover or any elevated driving platform is second nature to many drivers. But whether you are new to driving or a veteran, the importance of taking a few extra seconds to check the ground and secure your footing can avoid injury and save you a lot of pain (literally).
A survey of drivers (McClay 2008) stated that ‘common factors contributing to a fall from a truck include bad weather, slippery load, haste, inattention, tripping, uneven load, no support, improper footwear and fuel on steps’. Further, Scott et al (2003) found that slips – when entering or exiting a cabin or the 5th wheel area – were ‘exacerbated by lack of uniformity in step height, varying slip resistance and contamination with diesel (for the 5th wheel area)’.
Following a few golden rules and making safety second nature will help drivers avoid the high risk of soft tissue injury, fracture, trauma to muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments.
Practice the following:
Footings – non-slip safety footwear in good condition (sorry thongs don’t count), ground not muddy, slippery or uneven (where possible), clean up spills (oil, diesel, etc);
Three points of contact – Always have three points of contact when entering and exiting a cabin. Securely grasp the handles and use steps appropriately;
Don’t rush – move slow-and-steady whilst facing towards the cabin, don’t jump or rush up the steps or slide down from the cabin.
These golden rules, when used each time you enter and exit a truck, will go a long way to ensure you don’t hurt yourself. Remember: the Transport Industry has twice the injury rate than all other industries (Safe Work Australia 2012) and a huge proportion of those injuries were through falls from trucks. Professional drivers have a general duty to take reasonable care for their own safety and the safety of others.
The extra 30 seconds to do it safely will save you lots of time and pain in the long run and help you apply your duty to work safely.