If you are a commercial truck driver based in North Carolina, you will face multiple hazards other than road accidents. The risks range from musculoskeletal injuries to whole-body vibration and more. However, when it comes to hauling hazardous chemicals, the danger levels are significantly higher. Many chemicals present unique safety challenges, and you and your employer must adhere to all the safety standards.
Along with the measures to keep truck operators safe comes the responsibility to ensure that the recipients of the chemicals receive properly labeled products and that nothing or no one compromised the stability of those products during the trip. It might be a good idea to learn more about the risks and how to mitigate them.
Along with all the road hazards faced by truckers in other industries will come the risks of things like major potholes in the road. While other cargo carriers could risk fishtailing that could cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle, your hazardous load escalates the danger. For your load of volatile or flammable chemicals, such circumstances could become catastrophic in the blink of an eye.
Frequent examinations of your truck and all its equipment are crucial. Mechanical malfunctions and flaws in the engine or any equipment, such as leaking chemical containers, can cause life-threatening situations.
Compliance with storage regulations for the different types of chemicals you transport is essential. Because chemical reactions differ, it is crucial to ensure that each chemical is stored in the proper container because corrosion could occur during long trips. Viscosity and density bring additional hazards. A load of dense chemicals can cause the truck to jostle during a sudden stop, and you might lose control. Storing dense liquids in smaller containers could prevent that. Each load of chemicals involves intricate consideration at all levels.
Proper labeling is as vital an aspect of chemical logistics as appropriate storage. You must keep in mind that there is a supply chain that may follow after your delivery to the destination. Chemicals with incorrect labels or in improper containers can cause confusion at any point of distribution, and such confusion can have catastrophic consequences.
Many long-haul drivers face fatigue on the road. However, the nature of your cargo puts you in greater danger. Your employer may tend to push you to drive beyond your limits in the interest of the bottom line, or you may face financial difficulties and believe that one more trip could solve your problem. Beware that fatigue can be deadly, and the extra money for that last trip might have to pay for your funeral.
Hauling cargo will always be a security risk. However, the security challenges faced in chemical logistics are more extreme. Safety regulation in this industry became much stricter after 9/11. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security impose severe restrictions on chemical transportation because of its classification as controlled substances. Some chemicals can be used in the manufacturing of weapons if they fall into the wrong hands.
You should never transport chemicals without fully understanding all the hazards of each load. Your safety is your employer’s responsibility, which includes safety training covering each aspect, from storage, loading, unloading and hauling dangerous chemicals.
You suffered an injury – now what?
As in any other industry, you will likely be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, things could become complicated if your injury occurred while hauling chemicals across state lines. The sensible step would be to seek the support and guidance of an attorney with experience in dealing with the North Carolina workers’ compensation system. Legal counsel can navigate the claim to cover medical expenses and lost wages on your behalf. That will allow you to focus on recovering and getting back behind the wheel.