In the United States, approximately 500,000 commercial vehicles and heavy-duty trucks including dump trucks are involved in vehicular accidents. In 2010, approximately 100,000 people were injured and 5,000 were killed. The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) says that these numbers continue to rise. Use Hold Bars - Steps and hand hold bars should always be used when entering and exiting the truck.
In this regard, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has strengthened safety regulations of dump trucks to decrease the number of this type of accident. Even though safety regulations have been strengthened, there was still an increase caused by driver negligence, in particular due to driver fatigue.
Operators of these vehicles should exercise extra caution when on the road to avoid potential accidents. Decreasing accidents related to dump truck operations can be achieved if drivers always use caution when dumping these trucks.
Be a Cautious Driver
Becoming a cautious driver means always being vigilant, alert, careful, and undertaking all precautionary measures to avoid harm or danger. Realistically, these truck drivers are always at risk for injury during operations, whether in the vehicle or elevating and lowering the bed. Even the personnel working in the vicinity of the truck are at risk for potential injuries. Consequently, it is imperative to be alert about the possibility of danger while driving this vehicle and become a defensive driver.
Warding Off Danger with Pre-Inspections
Comprehensive precautionary measures must be a primary action to avoid danger. Before driving to the work area, an operator must understand the safety guidelines provided in the manufacturer’s manual. This should be followed by a pre-inspection of vital components such as the engine, tires, mirrors, brakes, dump beds, tailgate locks, and hydraulic fluid. If any problem is noticed in any of these areas, the truck should not be used until it has been serviced.
Precautionary Operation Measures
Check Work Area - Assess the loading and unloading area for known hazards such as power lines, boulders, tree branches, fences, and surface conditions such as sloping or muddy surfaces. Unloading on a risky surface is dangerous and could cause a dump truck tip-over.
Use Mirrors - Adjust side mirrors to widen the visibility of the rear area when backing up. If possible, use a "spotter" when emptying the load.
Notice Other Workers - Determine the location of people around the vehicle.
Even Load Distribution - Materials to be loaded should be evenly distributed inside the dump bed to increase stability.
Use Lock Bars - The dump bed lock bars should be engaged before doing any repair maintenance while the box is raised.
The driver should be aware of the material consistency of the load. Wet material tends to stick to the upper portion of the box while unloading.
There are many reasons why the number of accidents associated with dump trucks has increased; however, these numbers can be lowered if drivers are serious about: safety precautionary measures; knowing safety procedures; and identifying operational hazards associated with these vehicles. Employers must also take part in accident prevention by providing driver training about the safe operation of this massive vehicle. More importantly, an operator must use caution to be sure their loads are dumped safely as well as always being safe when driving and dumping their loads!