Operating an HGV can be risky business and one should exercise caution at all times – not just on the road itself, but also while entering and exiting the vehicle – in order to avoid potentially harmful accidents. A 2008 survey of drivers found that the most common factors contributing to falls from trucks were wide in range, including bad weather, improper footwear, fuel on steps, slippery or uneven loads, haste and inattention. |
Fortunately, taking into account certain simple steps and procedures can go a long way to help mitigate against these hazards and the injuries that they may cause, and ensure you’re never out of action when needing to fulfil your transport contracts.
The Three Point Rule
As a preliminary safety step, having the ‘Three Point Rule’ at the back of your mind when entering and exiting your HGV will stand you in great stead. All this entails is ensuring that while climbing into or down from the vehicle, you have at least three points of contact with it at all times. This could be two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot. Utilise the hand rails and steps (without skipping any, even if you’re in a rush to meet your transport contracts!) and be vigilant in making sure that these are in stable condition beforehand, keeping an eye out for any breaks or loose screws. If your equipment has been recently serviced , ensure the rails and steps still have a firm grip and have been thoroughly cleansed of any oil.
Last but not least, be conscious of the weather conditions. Snow, sleet, ice and rain can cause steps and rails to become precarious, so check your equipment first before climbing up and down during these conditions.
Other Essential Steps
Once you’re well versed in the ‘Three-Point Rule’ and safety checking your equipment pre-trip, there are number of other straightforward steps that you can take to further reduce the risk of accident. Donning a good pair of non-slip safety footwear is a hassle-free way of significantly improving your grip while on the job. Furthermore, keeping a clean cab, free of tools and other items such as fire extinguishers and tire bumpers, will help prevent any falls and stumbles by keeping your entry and exit route clear.
There are a variety of further cautions which, while potentially obvious, are also worth bearing in mind. Don’t be tempted to jump from a truck cab or piece of equipment, or try and use the fuel tanks as a step. Similarly, avoid having your back to the edge of a trailer at close range, and don’t walk backwards on a trailer. Also, if you’re in the market for a new HGV, be sure to check safety features and opt for a model that comes well equipped in this regard.
Finally, bringing all of these precautious together is the most important step that you can take, which is to avoid rushing and to take your time. You may have a day of back to back transport contracts on the horizon, but getting into the practise of simply taking a few extra minutes to check equipment and carefully enter and exit your vehicle will serve you well in the long run.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching drivers with transport contracts. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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