As a truck driver, you spend the majority of your day either behind the wheel or loading and unloading cargo. For the most part, this is an unavoidable consequence of your profession. But, it also puts you at risk of getting hurt.
Even if you put the risk of a crash aside, truckers still face a high likelihood of suffering an on-the-job injury. Here are some things you need to know about common injuries, how to prevent them and what to do if you end up injured.
Common truck driver injuries
Back pain seems to be the most commonly reported trucker injury. The injury could be acute, or it could develop over time from repetitive strain and stress. Other common injuries also include falls, injuries from falling objects and muscle sprains.
Some injuries result from the strain of sitting in one position for an extended period of time. Others may occur doing loading and unloading. Sleeping in the bunk can also cause muscle injuries, especially in cramped conditions.
How injuries can be prevented
Not every injury can be prevented. However, there are some steps that truckers can take to make injuries less likely. Consider the following:
- Stretch frequently: Every time you make a stop, take a few moments to do some light stretching. Keeping your muscles and ligaments limber helps avoid cramps, spasms and injuries.
- Practice good posture: Chronic pain can occur when your body's posture breaks down. It is critical you keep your posture in check when driving. Adjust your seat so that your back is as straight as possible, your arms remain relaxed while driving, and the backs of your legs touch the seat lightly. If you feel any tightness in your body, adjust your driving posture.
- Keep your body moving: The life of a trucker can be pretty sedentary. But, the better your physical shape, the less likely an injury will be. Make some time to get up and walk around a few times per day. Even a couple laps around your truck at a bathroom stop can make a huge difference.
- Use safe lifting techniques: Lift with your legs, not with your back, and wear a lifting belt when appropriate. For heavy or unwieldy items, either team carry or use a dolly.
What to do if you get hurt
If you have suffered a work-related injury, you have a right to medical care and compensation for lost wages. You can get these by seeking workers' compensation benefits. Every employer has to have workers' compensation coverage for their employees.
The first step is to report the injury to your supervisor. Your employer will then tell you what process you need to follow. If your employer does not treat you fairly, or if the insurance company cuts off benefits before you are healed, consider talking to a workers' compensation attorney for help.