Trucking is a hazardous job. Long-haul truck drivers are three times more likely to suffer from a work-related injury that requires time off than the general work population. One accident is all it takes to end a career and leave the individual dealing with medical bills and financial uncertainty. While workers’ compensation insurance is vital for every trucking business, what is equally important is ensuring truckers know when and how to file a workers’ compensation claim.
How Are Truckers at Risk?
Truck drivers are a major link between producers of goods and consumers. They pick up raw materials and deliver them to manufacturing plants. Additionally, they deliver finished products across cities and states to retailers and individual customers, and often require the handling of a large vehicle with a heavy load.
However, working conditions for truckers are often stressful and physically demanding. Truckers who travel short distances are often required to load and unload their own trucks, requiring considerable lifting and carrying of heavy loads. Long-distance truck drivers often drive for many hours, often at unsocial times and through poor weather and difficult terrain. The long-distance drivers often face boredom, loneliness, fatigue, and muscular stiffness. As a result, the lifestyle can be contributing factors to the high number of fatalities and the high risk of injuries on the roadways.
Common Injuries of Truckers
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD)
A musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) truck driver injury is when non-impact overexertion or bodily reactions affect the nerves, tendons, and muscles. These issues are often triggered by loading and unloading trucks, lifting boxes, and using vehicle dollies over a prolonged period of time.
Falls from elevations
A great deal of these injuries occur when falling from the truck to the ground, though there are also risks of falling on stairs and into openings. These injuries tend to affect the back, knees, and neck.
Tripping and slipping
Tripping can easily occur when lifting the latch on the back of a truck, pulling on tire chains, unloading the truck, and carrying items backward out of the truck. Weather conditions such as rain, sleet or snow can increase risks due to the possibility of slipping. Tripping and slipping often impact the back and knee, causing sprains and scuffs.
Struck by an object
When working with heavy machinery and heavy loads, there is a potential to be struck by a moving object. Trailers, winch bars, pallet jacks, chains, and more can strike the trucker when moving or if they fall onto the driver.
Driving comes with inherent risks. Since truckers spend so much time on the roads, they are vulnerable to experiencing collisions in relation to low and high speeds, inclement weather, difficult terrain, and other motorists. Even when the vehicle is not in operation, there are risks of injury, including mechanical failure and improper loading. More than 50% of all truck driver fatalities are caused by vehicle-related injuries.
Common Overlooked Injuries in the Trucking Industry
Not all truck driver risks are hazardous in and of themselves, but they can be amplified after drivers spend long periods of stationary time driving. Repetitive body stress over extended time periods is often overlooked as an injury in the trucking industry. Many non-reported injuries are a result of the driver either feeling embarrassed about the incident or hopeful it will disappear.
It’s well worth remembering that there doesn’t have to be broken bones and an emergency room visit to justify a workers’ compensation claim. Fleet managers should educate their motorists on what constitutes a claim and how to report it as immediately. There should be no shame in filing a claim for an injury, even if it was a result of a mistake. It is then the fleet manager’s duty to look into how the driver was performing at the time of the incident and if they made any moves that would disqualify them from getting coverage, such as being drunk behind the wheel and causing an accident that hurt themselves.
Reporting Claims for Trucking
Being on the road and with very independent job descriptions, supervisors may not always know when an accident has occurred, especially when there’s been a minor incident or an internal injury. In this case, it is essential for the trucker to take action and alert their supervisor of the injury and sequence of events. In a workers’ compensation case, lost time can severely affect your final claim cost, so it is essential that the injury gets medical attention promptly. Quickly reporting a claim is also the best way to take down an accurate report before the memory of it fades.
Make sure drivers know who to contact when they are injured on the road or on a site. Enforce strict guidelines, such as reporting the incident within 24 hours), and ensure that employees are reminded of this often.
Benefits of Reporting Claims
Trucking workers’ compensation claims that are reported immediately and with complete information are almost always settled at a lower cost than those that are not reported quickly and without detail. Since this can impact your workers’ compensation costs, it is vital to ensure your team knows how and when to file a claim. Keeping your insurance costs down and your team on the road help to keep driving your business forward.
PMC is the single source for workers’ compensation solutions. With experts on-call to help independent insurance agents stay competitive, we provide specialty programs in transportation and more. Find out how PMC can help you expand your book of business. Contact us today at 781-449-7744 or [email protected].