If you are a truck driver who hauls loads of three tons or more on the busy interstate routes around Jasper, Birmingham and the rest of Alabama, you will be at risk of suffering the injuries typical to your occupation. Federal safety authorities say a significant percentage of all occupational injuries and many fatalities occur in the trucking industry. If doing routine maintenance on your truck to keep it in working order forms a part of your responsibilities, you will face additional hazards.
Along with the risks of road accidents, you will likely experience aches and pains from overexertion, which might even cause musculoskeletal injuries. Contact with equipment and objects and accidental falls while entering and exiting the high cab of your truck might also cause discomfort.
Typical trucking hazards
Safety authorities say truckers' injuries typically include bruises, sprains and strains, fractures, lacerations and cuts, pain and general soreness and various traumatic injuries. The following list indicates the hazards truckers face on a daily basis:
- Psychosocial Hazards: Trucking leaves you isolated and away from your home and family and exposed to unwanted and unwelcome contact via radio communication equipment. Furthermore, the exposure to potential violence can cause unhealthy levels of stress.
- Accident Hazards: Along with collisions and other road accidents, fire-hazards from leaking or spilling chemicals along with the threats of explosions, chemical burns and poisoning by carbon monoxide will threaten your safety. Other potential accidental injuries include possible crushing between truck and trailer or falls from the trailer.
- Chemical Hazards: If your cargo includes toxic substances, you will be at risk of suffering skin diseases and the effects of inhalation of toxic fumes.
- Physical Hazards: Along with the constant vibration of the truck that can exacerbate fatigue, noise levels that exceed 80 decibels, such as truck engine noise, can cause headaches and in the long term, and it could cause hearing loss. The time you spend driving will also expose you to the extreme heat in the summer and extreme cold in the winter.
- Ergonomic Hazards: The uncomfortable posture while seated behind the wheel of a big rig for hours on end can cause musculoskeletal disorders such as lower back pain. Furthermore, poorly lit or dark roads can put excessive strain on your eyes.
The destinations to which your travel and the type of cargo you haul can pose even more hazards. Being aware of them might allow you to take precautions, but even then, you could suffer injuries that require medical care. Some truckers endure pain while on the road, postponing a visit to the doctor until they are back home after a trip. However, prompt medical care could prevent you from losing work time.
The Alabama workers' compensation insurance system will likely cover your medical expenses, along with a percentage of your lost wages if you were unable to return to hauling cargo loads for a while. You might find comfort in knowing that you can leave the complicated claims process for an experienced workers' compensation attorney to navigate on your behalf.