If you earn your living hauling cargo between North Carolina and other states, you put your life on the line each day. Along with the typical risks of road accidents, your occupation will expose you to a range of other work-related injuries. Reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate a rise in trucking deaths and injuries, while other industries are becoming safer.
Tens of thousands of big rig drivers lose work hours each year, and you can take precautions to avoid injuries. Although your employer is responsible for your safety at work, the nature of your job puts your safety in your own hands whenever you are on the road. Cuts, lacerations, sprains, strains, fractures and ergonomic injuries are not uncommon for commercial vehicle operators, and a variety of traumatic injuries lead to workers’ compensation claims each year.
If you are aware of the following risks, you may find ways to mitigate them:
- Exposure to the UV rays of the sun, even through the windshield and side windows, can cause sunburn injuries.
- Seasonal weather conditions can expose you to extreme climates like heat and cold, which could lead to frostbite, heat stroke and more.
- Continuous exposure to engine noise can cause hearing loss and chronic headaches.
- The whole-body vibrations caused by the moving truck could cause fatigue and impaired musculoskeletal functions.
Chemical and biological hazards
You could suffer long-term health consequences without even realizing that the following dangers threaten your health and safety:
- The cargo you haul may pose exposure hazards to toxic chemicals or biological hazards that could cause contamination or infection risks.
- Contact with chemicals increase the risk of dermatitis or other skin diseases.
- Driving on desert roads will expose you to dust.
- Chronic lung problems can develop from breathing in exhaust fumes.
These risks involve a lot more than collisions or other road accident injuries. The following hazards are present:
- Hazardous cargo like toxic substances or explosions can cause chemical burns and acute intoxication.
- Leaks or spills of flammable cargo can cause fire hazards.
- Crushing injuries are possible when you attempt to disengage the trailer from the truck.
- Slip or trip-and-fall accidents can occur when you exit the tall cabin or get on or off the trailer.
- Activities involving the moving of heavy cargo can cause physical overexertion and trauma.
The following hazards are typically unanticipated:
- The risk of being the victim of physical violence is always present whenever you stop at a rest area.
- The value of the cargo you haul might make you more vulnerable for criminal attacks.
- Long hours of driving and extended absences from your loved ones can cause isolation, stress and psychological discomfort.
Truck cabins are not typically ergonomically safe, and prolonged periods of driving in uncomfortable body postures often lead to musculoskeletal disorders like low-back pain. Also, driving on poorly illuminated roads often causes eye strain and visual discomfort.
Although the North Carolina workers’ compensation program covers most work-related injuries suffered by truck drivers, proving that progressive injuries or those that occurred while traveling in other states are work-related could be complicated. This is where the skills of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney come in. Legal counsel can advocate for you throughout ensuing proceedings to recover medical expenses and lost wages.