There is much more that goes along with being a trucker in Florida than just driving the rig. Trailers must be connected and inspected during the course of a working shift. While shipment contractors do the work associated with preparing the trailer for shipment, it is the drivers who must ensure the trailer is properly connected to the truck. This procedure involves cranking the trailer into position to tie on to the hitch.
Drivers who do this incorrectly also often eventually develop shoulder issues somewhere along the way in their careers. Luckily for the trucking industry, the Washington State Department of Labor and North Carolina State University have conducted some research regarding this issue and provided an analysis.
While shoulder injuries are not necessarily repetitive motion injuries, they have still been the primary issue in many workers’ comp injury claims over the years. Truck driver safety advocates have long wanted a study that provided a path to better health outcomes for drivers, and the insurance companies have been on board as well. What the study revealed is a beginning point for reducing the number of shoulder injury claims.
Lack of proper training
While many aspects of truck driving have been focused on safety during highway hours, not much safety time is devoted to training drivers on how to properly crank trailers into place during the connecting process. Very similar to training regarding heavy lifting for manual laborers in factories, the study recommends keeping the back straight when cranking a load into the attachment position. This not only helps the back, but it keeps the shoulders in proper alignment and spreads the pressure to the entire skeletal system, including the legs. The hope is for a long-term reduction in workers’ compensation insurance payouts.
The real question in the aftermath of the study will be how quickly shipping companies will begin training drivers in shoulder safety along with back safety. Shoulders also absorb significant stress from the driving and shifting process for those who have driven many years. Owner-operators often have much more latitude in running their own rigs, which means they also may be slow to follow suit.