May 2010 - Recognizing Hazards and Risks: Truck Driving

Safety Alert Type: 
Log Hauling
Province of BC
Date of Incident / Close Call: 
Company Name: 
BC Forest Safety Council
Details of Incident / Close Call: 

So far, 2010 has been a bad year for trucker safety. To date, there have been three reported fatalities, and, with much of the year still ahead, anyone involved in hauling logs or other material or equipment on resource roads needs to take note.

While not all the details are yet known about these tragic deaths, we can make some initial observations. One driver was killed when his truck left the road. However, two of the fatalities involved drivers outside of the cab: one was killed when the truck rolled back while he was adjusting his brakes; another was crushed while conducting some other task around the truck. In fact, over the past five years, a significant number of truck drivers killed on the job were not actually driving when the accident occurred. Clearly, hazards and risks exist at all times, not only when hauling heavy loads on busy and narrow resource roads.

We need to look at what can potentially hurt us, regardless of whether we are in the cab or out. What are the hazards? What is the potential for injury? How do we control the risk? What’s the plan? A useful approach is to use the RADAR approach introduced in last month’s Alert of the Month.

Step One: Recognize the Risk

  • Look for the “Upset Condition,” that moment when things aren’t going exactly as expected. Incidents are way more likely to occur when unplanned circumstances intrude: roadside breakdowns, traffic volumes, delays at the landing, changes in weather and road conditions, haul plans, personal stress or distractions, etc. That’s when you need to stop and ask yourself “What’s on my RADAR?” It’s not the time to be thinking “just get ‘er done, whatever it takes.”

Step Two: Assess the Situation

  • Stop. Think. Look around. What hazards and risks are within your immediate surroundings: other road traffic, unstable loads, sloping surfaces, poor footing, low visibility, uncontrolled energy, etc.? Are you, or anyone else, “in the bight,” or otherwise exposed to danger?
  • Think “What would happen IF?” What if someone comes around the corner; if you lose traction; if the load breaks free; if the truck starts rolling; if the tool slips when you are torquing it; if you slip; or if you fall. Ask yourself if you are absolutely sure you can proceed safely. If not, stop!

Step Three: Develop a Safe Solution

  •  After checking the hazards and risks, make a safe plan. First off, you must always control the potential energy sources: “Chock it, Block it, Lock it out!” Don’t think you can get away with shortcuts when securing either the vehicle or the load. Last year’s safety alert provides practical advice on the steps to take to de-energize equipment. Click here for more info.
  • A few other considerations: Do you have the right tools for the job? Do you have your personal protective equipment (PPE)? Can you communicate your status to others, both on the road or back at the shop? Are you trained or experienced in the task? Can you get a “second set of eyes” to help you assess and deal with the situation?

Step Four: Act safely to fix the problem

  •  Once you’ve made a safe plan to deal with your “upset condition”, stick to it. As some say, “Plan the Work, Work the Plan.”
  • But if anything unexpected happens while working your plan, stop. Work through the RADAR process again to see if there is a new hazard, or one you missed before.

Step Five: Report and Record the Upset Condition

  • What you’ve experienced may help prevent similar incidents or injuries from occurring in the future. If it happened to you, it has probably happened to someone else before, and you can bet it will happen again.
  • Report the situation to whoever supervises your work, whether that’s a lead driver, loaderman, foreman, owner, licensee, or Prime Contractor.
  • If you are a SAFE Company, there are forms you should use to record the incident and conduct an investigation if required. If it is something that the rest of industry should hear about and learn from, you should also submit a Safety Alert once you are back at the shop or office.

For more information on RADAR and sample crew talks, he RADAR Resource page is located on the Council website: http://www.bcforestsafe.org/RADAR

 Would you rather be in the truck on the left or on the right?  It is your choice every day.






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