Truckers are most prone to musculoskeletal injuries while loading and unloading their truck; this is due to the strain that bending, lifting, and heavy items put on the body. Sprains, hernias, and even fractures can occur due to improper body mechanics. Other accidents can occur in and around the truck to bystanders and workers. Securing both the truck and the unloading area is crucial for safety reasons. Here are several ways you can improve your working body form and safely unload your truck each time:

  • Before unloading, perform a load risk assessment using your judgment. Check for items that aren’t secured or may be broken. Look for spillage or hazardous materials. Ensure the truck is parked in a safe place, and that you aren’t unloading in inclement weather.
  • Ensure the truck is on a level surface, parked, with the engine off. Keys should be out of the ignition.
  • Don your personal protective equipment, if necessary. These may include gloves, helmets, UV glasses, high visibility garments, wrist guards, steel-toed boots, long-sleeved shirts and pants, earplugs, and sunscreen.
  • Restrict personnel on foot from the loading zone to prevent accidents and confusion.
  • Ensure appropriate forklift and machinery equipment licensing and experience.
  • Check for adequate lighting and complete visibility. If possible, only work during daylight hours.
  • Use wheel chocks and other vehicle restraint devices.
  • Never lift anything heavier than 50 pounds without some kind of support or help. When lifting loads heavier than 50 pounds, use two or more people to lift the load.
  • Materials that must be manually lifted should be placed at “power zone” height, about mid-thigh to mid-chest.
  • Maintain neutral and straight spine alignment whenever possible. Usually, bending at the knees, not the waist, will help maintain proper spine alignment.
  • Move items close to your body and use your legs when lifting an item from a low location.
  • Avoid twisting, especially when bending forward while lifting. Turn by moving the feet, rather than twisting the torso.
  • Keep your elbows close to your body and keep the load as close to your body as possible.
  • Keep the vertical distance of lifts between mid-thigh and shoulder height. Do not start a lift below mid-thigh height nor end the lift above shoulder height. Lifting from below waist height puts stress on legs, knees, and back. Lifting above shoulder height puts stress on the upper back, shoulders, and arms.
  • Utilize proper handholds, including handles, slots, or holes, with enough room to accommodate gloved hands.
  • Break down loads into smaller units and carry one in each hand to equalize loads. Use buckets with handles, or similar devices, to carry loose items.
  • Use pallet jacks and hand trucks to transport heavy items.
  • Utilize load bars, vertical supports, and load straps to secure loads.
  • Take regular breaks and break tasks into shorter segments. This will give muscles adequate time to rest.

What are some tips that you have for unloading your truck safely? Let us know in the comments!

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Top Five Health Concerns Truckers Should Know About

We all want to live long into our golden years to enjoy watching our kids and friends grow older. Longevity depends a little bit on genetics and a lot on several important factors, including diet, exercise, stress and disease prevention and management. To get a better handle on your health and understand the importance of regular checkups, we’ve listed five critical health concerns that all truckers should be concerned about now:

  1. Skin cancer. More than 90% of skin cancer is found on body parts that get too much sun exposure. Sunburns and prolonged exposure to the sun, moles, and a history of skin cancer in the female are all factors that predispose you to skin cancer. Because truck drivers get a lot of sun on one side of their face and arm, it’s important to be vigilant about applying sunscreen and wearing long-sleeved shirts. When riding in your truck or spending any amount of time under the sun, always apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more and get abnormal moles checked out about twice a year.
  2. Obesity. You are considered obese if you have a body mass index over 30, according to the CDC. Your heart has to work extremely hard to pump blood to all your organs if you are obese. Consuming a big meal means even more work, as the heart struggles to pump enough blood to the gut to break down such a heavy load. Obesity causes every household disease in the book – high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, joint problems, cancer, and depression. Truckers are at high risk for obesity because of a sedentary lifestyle and lack of healthy food options on the road. Doctors at Stanford Hospital recommend eating a low-calorie diet (1,500-1,800 calories per day) that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, along with a diet low in saturated fats. They also recommend exercising 30 minutes a day and joining a support group to provide encouragement and reinforcement.
  3. Sleep apnea. This deadly problem is often called a silent killer, because you may not even be aware that it’s happening. Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious disorder that occurs when your throat muscles relax and block your airway during your sleep, leading to several seconds of oxygen deprivation. Sleep apnea can cause sleep deprivation, chest pain, high blood pressure, headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness, according to the Mayo Clinic. Obesity and age are both high risk factors for developing the disorder. Smoking only makes this condition even more deadly. Treatments for sleep apnea may involve lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or losing weight, or they can include being fitted for an oral mouthpiece or breathing device. A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) fits over your mouth and nose and gently blows air into your airway to keep it open at night.
  4. High blood pressure. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is also called a silent killer because many people aren’t even aware they have it. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. As it rises, it can turn into hypertension, which is blood pressure measuring 140/90 and above. High BP can lead to coronary artery disease, where the vessels around the heart can’t get enough blood to the most important organ in our body – the ticker. High blood pressure can also seriously damage kidneys, leading eventually to kidney failure, and if pressures get high enough, the risk of stroke climbs as well. If you have high blood pressure, you should take your blood pressure at least once a day using a manual device. Compliance with medication is essential, because even if you feel better, you should never stop taking your blood pressure pills. Many truckers report they have high blood pressure because of the quality of food they consume and a lack of areas to exercise. Get out of your truck and get your heart pumping for at least 30 minutes a day. Limit salt, alcohol, and caffeine in your diet, along with saturated fats. And always keep up with doctors’ appointments.
  5. Heart attacks. More than one million Americans have a heart attack each year. Their survival depends on how much damage to the heart has been done and if they were able to reach help in time. A heart attack occurs when clots or plaque block blood flow to the coronary arteries, which oxygenate your heart muscle. Symptoms of a heart attack include squeezing pain or pressure felt in the chest or arms, pain or discomfort radiating from the jaw down to the arms, sweating, nausea, shortness of breath, and pain that isn’t relieved by rest. You must keep your heart healthy to prevent heart attacks. That means eating fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water. Always drink a full glass of water before bed and never go to bed after eating a full, rich meal. Stay away from saturated fats and alcohol, quit smoking, and manage your high blood pressure with medication, if you have this. Maintaining an ideal body weight and managing stress are two more ways you can help prevent heart attacks.

What are some ways you manage your health on the road? Let us know in the comments!

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Preventing Rollovers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports that 78% of rollovers are caused by driver error. Drivers are ten times 

more likely to be the cause of the rollover than any other factor. The key to prevention is educating drivers on what to look for to keep this dangerous incident from occurring.

Excessive speed is the number on cause of rollovers, according to SafetyMovement.org. Speed limit signs on highways are meant for cars and are not safe for larger vehicles such as semi trucks. SafetyMovement.org says the two types of rollovers are tripped, where the vehicle leaves the roadway and slides sideways digging its tires into soft soil, or where it hits an object such as a guardrail or curb. The high tripping force causes a rollover.

The other type of rollover is untripped, where the vehicle does not hit an object, but rolls over due to centrifugal force, usually during high
speed turns or sudden steering maneuvers. Tankers with a high center of gravity are more prone than passenger cars to untripped rollovers.

Other causes of rollovers include:

1. Entering a curve at too high a speed

2. Swerving to avoid an obstacle

3. Fatigue, falling asleep, driving off the road

4. Stopping or parking on a soft surface

5. Truck improperly loaded

6. Sudden maneuvers due to inattention to the road

7. Driver distracted, drifted off the road.

Preventing these rollovers is critical. SafetyMovement.org and FMCSA recommend these tips:

  • Slow down on turns and curves, at least 5 miles below the posted advisory speed.
  • Get sufficient rest before you commence driving.
  • Observe the Hours of Service rules.
  • Take your on-road rest breaks.
  • Plan where you pull off the road to stop. Look for paved or other hard surfaces.
  • Always leave yourself plenty of clear vision ahead.
  • Ensure your load is properly centered and loaded.
  • Avoid partially filled loads; if you can’t do so, reduce your speed substantially before entering a turn.
  • Watch for high-risk areas on the highway.
  • Maintain proper speed cushions.
  • Leave with a balanced load, and if doing multiple drops, plan the discharges so that the truck axle loadings remain balanced.
  • If you do leave the paved surface, don’t swing back sharply. Reduce speed, and when slowed, turn gradually back onto the road.
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Trucking Image Gets a Makeover

Do you think the trucking industry needs to be revamped? That’s the impetus behind “Trucking Moves America Forward”  (TMAF), a movement funded by industry leaders to bolster the trucking image.

The mission of TMAF is to establish a long-term, industry-wide movement to create a positive image for the industry and ensure that the policymakers and the public understand the importance of the trucking industry to the nation’s economy. The movement was launched in March at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

Members behind the movement include Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), Peterbilt Motors Company, Castrol Heavy Duty Lubricants, and Love’s Travel Stops.

TMAF continues to pick up steam and garner press. Pilot Flying J’s founder James A. Haslam II just donated $1.25 million to the cause, the largest cash donation to date.

If you don’t think the impact of trucking is far-reaching and critical to the economy, consider these facts:

  • There are over 3 million truck drivers in the U.S.
  • Trucking makes up the largest portion of the American transportation industry – about 27 percent. Top goods that are hauled include clothes, food, furniture, and machinery.
  • Truckers use up to 50 billion gallons of gas each year, which accounts for about 12-13% of the nation’s fuel consumption.
  • About 84% of trucking-related accidents are the other driver’s fault (the car).
  • A truck’s engine is six times bigger than a car engine and can go up to one million miles.
  • One out of nine truckers is an independent driver.
  • Businesses choose trucks for 82 cents out of every dollar they spend on shipping.
  • A fully loaded truck weighs about 80,000 pounds.
  • Almost 62% of trucking hauls are 100 miles or less.
  • 78% of freight in America is driven by trucks.
  • The average daily run for a long-haul driver is 500 miles.
  • In 2015, the freight transportation industry is predicted to carry 18 billion tons of freight, generating $1.3 trillion in revenue.
  • Total tonnage volumes will grow by 32%.
  • Trucking exclusively serves over 80% of all communities in the U.S.

What do you think about TMAF? Are you excited to see the trucking industry get a makeover? Let us know in the comments!

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New Hours of Service Rule in Limbo

The Senate Appropriations Committee has thrown a wrench into the 34-hour restart rule provision of the hours of service (HOS) rule by voting to suspend it last week. 

The Committee passed an amendment on June 9 suspending the rule while the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration examines if the rule is truly beneficial to all parties involved.

The rule required truck drivers who maximize their weekly work hours to take at least two nights’ rest when their 24-hour body clock demands sleep the most – from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. This rest requirement is part of the rule’s “34-hour restart” provision that allows drivers to restart the clock on their workweek by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.

The rule stated that drivers can take a 30-minute break whenever they need rest during an eight-hour window. It retained the current 11-hour daily driving limit. It reduced by 12 hours the maximum number of hours a truck driver can work within a week. Under the old rule, truck drivers could work on average up to 82 hours within a seven-day period. The new HOS final rule limits a driver’s workweek to 70 hours. In addition, truck drivers cannot drive after working eight hours without first taking a break of at least 30 minutes.

The rule limits the use of the “34-hour restart” to once a week, or 168 hours. If restarts are taken every 6 days, alternating 14 hours on-duty and 10 hours off, a driver would reach 70 hours in less than 5 full days. After a 34-hour break, the driver could then begin this same cycle again, totaling 70 hours on duty every 6 calendar days, for an average of almost 82 hours per calendar week. The purpose of the restart rule would be to limit excessive buildup of on-duty hours.

While the amendment is suspended, the old restart provision stands. Drivers are NOT required to be off between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. on two straight nights during their restart.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) applauded the move. “Truckers have long pointed out the negative impacts of the 2013 changes on their ability to get rest, stay out of busy city traffic, spend time at home, and make a family-supporting income,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.

In addition, the amendment sets a deadline for the FMSCA to publish its electronic logging device mandate by the end of January 2015. The mandate requires drivers who use paper logs to now switch to electronic logs.

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The Best Trucking Books

We’ve told you about our favorite songs about trucking, the best trucking movies, and our favorite trucking paraphernalia. But what about books? It turns out there are several amazing books about trucking, from fiction to nonfiction, to glossy spreads featuring beautiful trucks on display. We know that truckers love to learn more about their industry and the men and women within it; and delving into books is great entertainment, especially during those nights spent on the road. Here are several of our favorite books about trucking:

  • The Long Haul: American Trucking Companies. This 2008 novel pulls from trucking history and starts at the beginning. It describes how trucking companies got their start and how they grew their empires.
  • In The Driver’s Seat: Interstate Trucking – A Journey. This is a firsthand account about trucking from someone who lives it everyday. Marc Mayfield, a long-haul truck driver, uses anecdotes and real-world tips to describe the life of a trucker.
  • Bumper-to-Bumper: The Complete Guide to Tractor-Trailer Operations. This book is famous for its candid look into the life of a trucker. Its no-nonsense descriptions never demean the industry, but treat it with the respect it deserves. This book is great for drivers behind the wheel on a day-to-day basis.
  • The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger. How can a rectangular box make such a huge impact on global politics and the economy? Author Marc Levinson gives a fascinating account of how container shipping grew into a huge industry and how its adoption required huge sums of money from both private investors and ports.
  • Truck Driver Tom. This one is for the kiddos! It’s all about Tom, who drives a big rig across country and sees lots of different-sized trucks and beautiful scenery.
  • Truck Drivers: The Dietician’s Guide to Smart Eating and Healthy Living for Truckers. This book acknowledges the pitfalls of having a sedentary job in the driver’s seat and discusses smart solutions to choose better food at restaurants and how to get energized without pills and caffeine.
  • Mother Trucker. This incredible story is about a middle-aged couple who quit their lucrative white-collar jobs to become long-haul truckers. The couple’s refreshing take on team truck driving will leave you laughing out loud and rooting for the couple.
  • Spirit of the Road. This is the touching story about a man who embarks on a year-long journey with his cat to become a long-haul trucker. You follow Rick Huffman from CDL school to life on-the- road, and enjoy every twist and turn along with the narrator.

Which books about trucking have you read? Please let us know in the comments!

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Tools to Make Trucking Easier

The life of a trucker is hard work. Days and sometimes nights on the road, always keeping vigil, remaining cognizant of erraticweather, distracted drivers, and unforgiving road conditions. Truckers must also be ready to perform heavy lifting, loading and unloading hauls at the end of a long day in extreme heat and cold. The best tools of a trucker are their hands, but there are other implements that can make this job easier and kinder on the body. Here are some of the necessities every trucker should carry:

  • Leather and rubber gloves. A good pair of work gloves will help you in many situations, including fueling, pulling tandems, opening the trailer, and unloading goods.
  • Tire pressure gauge. Check your tires daily to prevent flat tires and increase fuel efficiency.
  • Radiator or small engine belt. These will come in handy when pulling tandems and fifth wheels.
  • Kneepads. These are wonderful to cushion knees on hard surfaces if you need to crawl under the truck or adjust slack adjusters.
  • First aid kit. This should include bandaids, gauze, gloves, tape, ointment, eye care products, scissors, and cold packs.
  • Wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen. The combination of these two will help you buffer the sun’s harmful effects.
  • Screwdriver and hammer. These are excellent tools for a variety of jobs around the truck.
  • Wipes. Baby wipes or wet naps are essential for cleaning up spills or wiping your face and hands for refreshment.
  • Solid pair of work boots. A heavy-duty pair of boots, the expensive and comfortable kind, are well worth the investment. At the end of a long day, your feet will thank you.
  • Crescent wrenches, sockets, allen wrenches, channel locks, pliers – all of these make small maintenance jobs easier.
  • Caulk and caulking gun to patch small holes.
  • Spare light bulbs to change burnt out bulbs in a pinch.
  • WD-40, zip ties, electrical wire, spare fuses.
  • A good flashlight with spare batteries.
  • A utility knife to measure tread depth.
  • An adjustable spanner and socket set.
  • A breaker bar to loosen the toughest nuts.

What tools do you absolutely have to carry in your truck at all times? Let us know in the comments!

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