Transportation and logistics play significant roles in the economy of Oklahoma, and so do the brave men and women who spend many hours facing the numerous hazards of operating big rigs. If you are new to the trucking industry or considering making a career as a trucker, you might be interested in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's report that truckers experience more non-fatal injuries than workers in any other industry. Commercial truck drivers face much more than the dangers of road accidents.
To limit the number of injuries and deaths caused by fatigued and exhausted truck operators, the U.S. Department of Transportation regulates the number of hours the operators may drive before taking mandatory rest periods. However, many other aspects of trucking are hazardous.
Along with collisions and other crashes, you could fall victim to a variety of other accidents, including the following:
- Engaging and disengaging the trailer from the tractor pose the danger of crushing accidents.
- Hauling flammable or combustible substances pose fire hazards in the event of mechanical failure or a collision.
- Falls from slips or trips or from the high cabin, the trailer or the ladder can cause severe injuries.
- Overexertion and physical trauma can follow if you load and unload cargo without help.
- Increased fatigue risks on long hauls can threaten your safety.
Risks exist even if you haul non-chemical cargo. You could be aware of the following potential safety threats:
- If you haul toxic substances, leaks or collisions can cause harm through inhalation of fumes or burns through skin contact.
- Even limited exposure to chemical substances can cause skin diseases like dermatitis.
- Frequent and long-term exposure to exhaust fumes can cause chronic health problems, and excessive exposure can result in carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be deadly.
- Frequent driving on desert roads can cause respiratory problems.
- Hauling biologically hazardous materials could put you at risk of contamination or infection.
The following are but some of the potential physical hazards against which you could take precautions:
- The continuous exposure to engine noise can cause severe headaches, and if the noise level exceeds 80 decibels, long-term exposure can cause hearing loss.
- You will be susceptible to heat stroke and frostbite from exposure to extreme weather conditions in the summer and winter seasons.
- The ultraviolet rays of the sun through the unprotected windows of your truck can cause skin cancer.
- The vibrations of the truck can affect your whole body, causing impaired musculoskeletal functioning.
- Ergonomic problems can develop after maintaining an uncomfortable posture while driving for many hours. Pain in your lower back might cause severe discomfort.
- Driving on poorly illuminated or dark roads could cause visual discomfort from eyestrain.
Along with the fact that you will be away from your home and loved ones for long periods, the following could affect you psychologically:
- If you haul valuable cargo, you might be the target of crime.
- You will encounter different types of people at truck stops and roadside rest areas, and physical violence might threaten your safety.
What would be the logical steps to take if you are injured?
The best course of action will always be to seek medical care as soon as possible. However, some truckers prefer to prolong their suffering until they can see their own doctors upon their return. This might not be the best route to take because most injuries become worse if not treated promptly. It might be a good idea to discuss this matter with an experienced Oklahoma workers' compensation attorney who can explain the procedures to claim benefits for injuries suffered while you are working in another state.