As a workers’ compensation attorney in Washington State, I often see L&I claims involving truck driver work injury. Also, I can attest that trucking work accidents can be severe and costly. In my experience, common occurrences of trucking work injury include slips, trips and falls. These workplace accidents happen in a variety of ways. Sometimes they involve getting in and out of the rig. Other times, they can involve a collision. In some cases, they happen while performing maintenance on the rig or some other activity. For example, securing load or putting up chains. Additionally, many trucking-related work injuries happen during loading, unloading, and moving loads.
Work injury in the trucking industry
An industrial injury is when a sudden and tangible incident results in physical harm requiring medical attention. From personal observations, industrial injuries in trucking are quite severe. Maybe it’s because most trucking work injury cases involve large rigs, heavy equipment, as well as heavy loads. More explicitly, I’ve seen examples of truckers’ workplace injury such as falling off loading ramps and docks. Other examples include getting hit by roll-up or swinging doors and slipping and falling getting in and out of the cab. Then, there are also work accident instances when truck drivers are lifting heavy items, or getting hit by freight. Finally, there’s also motor vehicle accidents involving trucks as well as forklift work accidents.
Obviously, trucking injuries can impact all parts of the body. After all, it’s an industry that is highly prone to work accidents and devastating injuries. In many incidents we see shoulder injuries, knee injuries, and also neck and low back work-related injuries. In more harsh cases, we also encounter traumatic brain injury (TBI) in trucking as well.
Occupational disease and industrial illness in trucking
Of course, L&I claim involving a truck driver might arise from an occupational disease. Specifically, occupational diseases (also known as industrial illness) are conditions caused by job activities. Moreover, these conditions may develop over time. In my experience, truckers are more likely to develop occupational illness on the job if they’ve been doing it a long time. They are also likely to develop an industrial disease when their job involves frequent, repetitive, and heavy lifting activity. Over the years, I’ve seen many trucking-related work diseases.
There are distinctive work activities that lead to an occupational disease for truckers. These conditions include repetitive jarring from poor shocks, poor seat design, or seat malfunction. On top, they include repetitive hooking or unhooking large and heavy hoses, repetitive climbing in and out of the cab for short haul routes and repetitive loading of large, heavy, awkward, and bulky freight. As a result, I’ve seen work injury claimants develop sprains and strains, shoulder tears, knee tears, herniated disks, and aggravate degenerative conditions like arthritis.
The impact of work injury on truckers
There’s no doubt that truck driving involves labor intensive activities. Many accidents happen with large trucks and heavy equipment. Therefore, trucking work injuries and occupational diseases can seriously impact the ability to work. In trucking, it’s particularly difficult to modify a job for light duty work activity. Consequently, in addition to the medical and other costs of the L&I claim, a trucking workers’ compensation claim is extremely costly for the work injury claimant. Too often, it can end a good career for injured truck drivers.
The L&I trucker safety initiative
The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) created the Safety and Health Assessment and Research (SHARP) program. In essence, they designed the program to help improve workplace safety. SHARP maintains that workplace accidents result from preventable exposures. The L&I SHARP program, in partnership with funding from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is studying occupational safety and health in the trucking industry. This project is called Trucking Injury Reduction Emphasis or TIRES. In fact, the TIRES program already covers a decade of research to prevent slips, trips, falls, strains and sprains, and getting struck by objects. Furthermore, L&I develops materials under the TIRES program to prevent common accidents.
L&I published certain statistics that relate to work injuries for truckers. In short, truck drivers and truckers are frequently prone to work injury and accidents on the job. Hence, the TIRES program is working hard to create a trucking-industry-specific safety program. For me, in trucking workers’ compensation claims, I pay special attention to the high price that work injury claimants incur. Therefore, all safety improvements that reduce trucking injury and disease occurrences is a worthwhile and blessed investment.