If you are a truck driver who navigates massive 18-wheelers on the busy Connecticut roads, you might be concerned for the welfare of your family if you should suffer a debilitating injury or worse in a work-related accident. Transportation accidents claim many lives every year, and falls, overexertion and struck-by-object incidents can cause long-term health problems that might jeopardize your earning ability. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the hours you may drive without resting, but that only addresses the issue of accidents resulting from fatigue and drowsiness.
Your employer also carries some of the responsibility to ensure your safety such as providing the necessary training and ensuring only the best automotive mechanics look after your truck’s maintenance. You carry a significant percentage of the quest to stay safe, and that includes the safety of other motorists, pedestrians and co-workers.
Frequently suffered trucker injuries
The International Labour Organization classifies the driver of a commercial vehicle with a load capacity exceeding three tons as a trucker. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the various hazards you face as a trucker may cause multiple traumatic injuries, fractures, sprains and strains, lacerations and cuts, bruises, soreness and pain.
Your hauling of heavy loads will expose you to a variety of circumstances that could present the following physical hazards:
- Continued vibration of your whole body could cause what is known as trucker’s fatigue along with impaired musculoskeletal functions.
- Your exposure to engine noise — typically exceeding 80 decibels — could cause chronic, severe headaches, and eventually, it might harm your hearing.
- You might have to deal with extreme weather conditions, and unexpected breakdowns can expose you to heat stroke or frostbite.
- Ultraviolet radiation exposure is another physical hazard for truckers.
While crashes with other motor vehicles pose life-threatening risks, any of the following accidental incidents can cause you harm:
- Explosions of hazardous cargo can cause chemical burns and acute intoxication.
- Continuous exposure to exhaust fumes can cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
- If you drive a tanker truck carrying flammable or combustible liquids, any leak resulting from a collision or mechanical failure can create fire hazards.
- Fatigue on long trips poses a significant risk, especially if your deadlines do not allow frequent rest periods.
- The need to move and lift heavy cargo pieces without help can cause physical overexertion that might lead to trauma.
- Moving in and out of a tall cabin, climbing onto the trailer or navigating your way up and down a ladder might end in a slip-and-fall accident.
- Disengaging the trailer from your truck can present the risk of being crushed if you end up in the wrong place at the wrong moment.
The longer your driving stints before resting, the more ergonomic hazards such as the following may threaten your safety:
- Driving in the dark and on roads with poor illumination for long hours typically cause visual discomfort.
- Musculoskeletal disorders often plague truckers because the prolonged hours of sitting in uncomfortable postures cause pain in their lower backs.
Although hauling hazardous chemicals poses risks of toxic exposure, the following could also cause harm:
- Contact with chemicals can cause dermatitis and other skin diseases.
- Dust exposure on desert roads can cause respiratory problems.
- Exposure to exhaust fumes can lead to chronic health problems.
You most likely spend many hours on your own, and the following psychosocial harm could eventually result:
- Days or weeks away from your family members could increase stress levels, often related to their safety and well-being.
- Unwelcome radio communications and the threat of physical violence or assaults at truck stops could cause anxiety, along with the danger of being a victim of a crime if you transport valuable cargo.
You might find comfort in the knowledge that the Connecticut workers’ compensation insurance program will provide financial assistance if you should suffer any trucking-related injuries. Your employer or the insurer might question the validity of certain claims, but you have resources available to provide you with the necessary support and guidance.