Commercial truck drivers transport a substantial amount of the materials and consumer goods that keep the American economy running. Long-haul trucking helps keep costs low and can ensure the quick and timely delivery of perishable items, ranging from produce to chilled beer.
Sadly, the same people who helped maintain the modern American economy also incur substantial risk to themselves every day on their job. The risks that they face range from injuries caused by physical labor to repetitive motion injuries caused by driving itself. When drivers and their families know many of the common risk factors for truckers, they can take steps to mitigate those risk factors.
Loading and unloading can lead to a broad range of injuries
Many truck drivers simply have to disconnect their trailer at the point of delivery and then later pick up a loaded trailer elsewhere. Other drivers have to help physically unload items, possibly a little bit at a time at individual businesses.
The more physical work a truck driver does with the process of loading and unloading, the more likely they are to suffer injuries to their backs, necks, shoulders and knees as a result of that strenuous physical activity.
Driving can cause a strain and injury throughout the body
Anyone who has driven for more than an hour or so knows how the hands and arms can start cramping and the shoulders can start tightening up quickly at the wheel. Commercial drivers may go hours without so much as a bathroom break. They may drive 12 or more hours for multiple days in a row.
The result could be high levels of strain to their hands, wrists, forearms, back and shoulders, as well as their legs from braking, accelerating and shifting. Over time, all of that effort could result in conditions like carpal tunnel that will limit a driver’s future options and cause ongoing pain.
Motor vehicle crashes are also a risk for truck drivers
As if there weren’t already enough risk factors for commercial drivers, the very act of being in traffic is also a risk.
While big commercial trucks are less likely to suffer extreme damage in a crash with a smaller vehicle, that doesn’t mean that truck drivers always walk away from collisions unscathed. Additionally, truckers can get hurt in single-vehicle incidents, such as a tip-over caused by someone improperly loading their trailer.
Truck drivers who get hurt while working as a full-time employee of a company may be able to seek workers’ compensation benefits to cover both their medical costs and lost wages during the recovery.