Archive for January, 2012

Tips gleaned from fatality investigation

craneBy Jena Williams

A crane operator/truck driver died in July of 2010 when he fell 4 feet while dismounting from the crane’s turntable. There is a lot of overlap between this investigation of the crane operator’s situation and what truck drivers face on a daily basis. Below are some tips gained from the fatality investigation.

  • Maintain 3-points of contact — two hands and one foot, or one hand and two feet – with the equipment or ground at all times. This method allows for greater stability and control and reduces the possibility of a fall.
  • Face toward the equipment, both when mounting and dismounting. This allows for better balance and use of handholds/handrails and better contact of the foot with steps.
  • Do not jump. This increases the impact forces on the knees, ankles, and spine which may cause a sprain or over time conditions such as osteoarthritis of the knees. Also it increases the possibility of slipping and falling when landing on slippery or uneven surfaces.
  • Mount and dismount equipment only where steps, ladders, and handrails/handholds are provided.
  • Look before dismounting to be sure that there are no obstacles, such as holes, uneven ground, ice, or other conditions that may affect footing.
  • Wear footwear with slip resistant soles.
  • Clean mud off of footwear.
  • Do not carry anything in hands, so as to be able to use handholds/handrails. Use a hand line and bag/bucket to raise or lower equipment.

For more information or to review the entire report click here.

Advice from the best….

America's Road Team 2011-2012By Jena Williams

America’s Road Team Captains have put together a list of tips to keep you safe on the wintery roads. Some, such as buckle up, are an important reminder to truck drivers. You don’t want to be ejected if there is a collision or if your truck leaves the road.  Many of these are for the general public so feel free to pass the reminder on…

Large trucks have blind spots – If you can’t see the truck driver in his or her mirrors, then the truck driver can’t see you.

Buckle up – Safety belts are not a fashion statement – they save lives.

Be careful backing up – One in four preventable collisions involve backing up. Be sure to look before backing up; walk around your car prior to departure.

Do not cut in front of large trucks – Remember that trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.

Click here to see more tips

* Photo courtesy of ATA America’s Road Team

Sleep Apnea – The diagnosis that can change your life

air pressure machine for sleep apneaBy Jena Williams

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing during sleep sometimes up to several hundred times a night. Episodes are followed by fragmented, restless sleep. This can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and can lead to serious health conditions including congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, or stroke.

Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can cause a person to fall asleep while performing work activities such as driving. It’s a dreaded diagnosis among many truck drivers, one that they assume will change their life. They may be surprised to find that the diagnosis can change their life for the better.

Dennis, a long-time truck driver, shares how this diagnosis has affected his life. “Before my diagnosis with sleep apnea, I thought it was just part of the job to feel tired all the time. I never knew what a good night’s sleep was. Now that I sleep with a CPAP machine, I feel good, rested and ready to attack the day.” Dennis noted that his symptoms also included night-time acid reflux and snoring.

Some common symptoms of sleep apnea include: loud snoring, labored breathing during sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, or difficulty concentrating. Although obstructive sleep apnea seems to be more common in obese men, 40% of the people diagnosed are not obese.

According to the MedLine Plus library:

“A person with obstructive sleep apnea usually snores heavily soon after falling asleep. The snoring continues at a regular pace for a period of time, often becoming louder, but is then interrupted by a long silent period during which there is no breathing. This is followed by a loud snort and gasp, and the snoring returns. This pattern repeats frequently throughout the night.”

If you have any of these symptoms, or have been told by your sleep partner that you do, see your doctor immediately. You could be a danger to yourself and others on the road.

Treatment for sleep apnea can be fairly simple and ranges from lifestyle changes to sleeping with a positive airway pressure machine. According to Dr. Bennet Wang, a pulmonary and sleep medicine specialist at Group Health Bellevue Medical Center, “…the airway machines have really improved over the past 2-3 years. People, who used to not be able to tolerate them, can now tolerate the treatment.” It’s important that drivers don’t avoid dealing with this issue. A simple treatment can save lives on the road and improve a driver’s quality of life in general.

Recovery can be life changing. You may not remember ever feeling better.

Similar topics:

Nightime breathing treatments (link added 01/30/2012)

Article in FleetOwner

MedLine Plus Library

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The No Zone

no zoneBy Jena Williams

When the TIRES project first started interviewing truck drivers, we found that one of your biggest fears is accidently killing another driver in the general motoring public. That’s because you understand the weight and force behind a big rig. Unfortunately, other motorists just don’t get it. They see all that room in front of you as an opportunity to get ahead, not as the safety cushion you need in order to not squish them like a bug.

Knowing this all too well, the FMCSA developed the No Zone Campaign in an effort to educate the general public to stay out of your way so you can do your job. Let’s get the word out by sharing this article with those you care about. In addition, if you had the ear of the general motoring public, what other information would you share with them?

More information can be found at US Dept. of Transportation FMCSA’s No Zone Campaign.

*Graphic courtesy of SafeNY, adapted from US DOT.

Do your legs keep you up at night?

tiredBy Jena Williams

It is estimated that 12 million people in the United States suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) – that twitchy, crawly feeling that makes you feel like you need to jump up and go for a walk in the middle of the night. Although RLS usually affects the legs of sufferers when they try to relax in the evening, it can also affect arms and even the trunk of the body. According to the Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation, Inc., you might be suffering from RLS if:

  • You have a strong urge to move your legs which you may not be able to resist. The need to move is often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations. Some words used to describe these sensations include: creeping, itching, pulling, creepy-crawly, tugging, or gnawing.
  • Your RLS symptoms start or become worse when you are resting. The longer you are resting, the greater the chance the symptoms will occur and the more severe they are likely to be.
  • Your RLS symptoms get better when you move your legs. The relief can be complete or only partial but generally starts very soon after starting an activity. Relief persists as long as the motor activity continues.
  • Your RLS symptoms are worse in the evening especially when you are lying down. Activities that bother you at night do not bother you during the day.

Doctors are learning more about the syndrome and have discovered that nearly every person affected by it has abnormally low levels of iron. There is also some evidence of magnesium deficiency.

RLS negatively impacts the sleep of sufferers and their bed partners. It can cause daytime sleepiness and inattention on the job. You may even notice your legs getting restless while driving if you have been sitting for a long time. If you suspect that you have RLS, see your doctor. He or she can prescribe medications or supplements to bring you relief! For more information visit the Restless Leg Syndrome Foundation, Inc. web site at

NOTE: Restless Leg Syndrome will soon change its name to Willis-Ekbom disease.

In Memoriam

candleBy Jena Williams and Randy Clark

During 2011, ten truck drivers lost their lives while performing their jobs. Five of these drivers died when their trucks crashed, two died when they were struck by a vehicle while walking around their trucks, one died when his truck moved while he was working on its brake system, one died when struck by a load while on the back of a truck, and one died from injuries after falling when exiting his truck.

As we remember these truck drivers who died doing their jobs, we at TIRES renew our commitment to reducing injuries in the trucking industry. Even one life lost is one too many. We invite you to share any memories you have of these workers. Men who should have come home at the end of the day, but didn’t.

Cong Pham, 60, Delivery Driver
Died: January 16, 2011
Mr. Pham was delivering packages when he was struck by a motor vehicle as he stepped out from behind his truck.

Donald Hines, 39, Truck Driver
Died: February 19, 2011
Mr. Hines was walking outside his truck when he was struck by a truck pulling out of a parking area.

Allan Hurn, 69, Truck Driver
Died: March 2, 2011
Mr. Hurn was at a delivery site where he was making repairs to a part of his truck’s brake system when the truck unexpectedly moved; he was crushed under the rear wheel of the truck’s tandem axle.

Gary Sutton, 48, Truck Driver
Died: August 19, 2011
Mr. Sutton’s semi-trailer truck left an interstate highway and rolled over into the median.

Robin McCalister, 55, Log Truck Driver
Died: September 7, 2011
Mr. McCalister was standing on the back of his log truck when he was struck by logs being placed on his truck by a loader.

John Hazelton, 60, Truck Driver
Died: September 15, 2011
Mr. Hazelton was driving his semi-trailer truck and hit another truck that had pulled onto the interstate highway shoulder because of smoke from a brush fire.

Dale Wheeler, 58, Truck Driver
Died: October 9, 2011
Mr. Wheeler missed a step while exiting his truck and fell backwards landing on the ground. He died of his injuries 12 days later.

Arville Chappell, 56, Truck Driver
Died: November 9, 2011
Mr. Chappell was driving a tanker truck along an interstate highway when his vehicle left the roadway and overturned.

James Spicer, 57, Truck Driver
Died: November 14, 2011
Mr. Spicer was driving a semi-truck along a state highway when his vehicle collided head-on with another semi-truck.

Shamsher Sohi, 40, Truck Driver
Died: December 8, 2011
Mr. Sohi was driving a semi-trailer truck along an interstate highway when his truck rear ended a vehicle, left the highway and crashed.

Truck driver dies after accident on Tacoma Tideflats

By Jena Williams

A truck driver has died after an accident, apparently while he was making a delivery to Simpson Tacoma Kraft Co. on Portland Avenue.

Read more here:

Please be safe out there.

Vote on your favorite Washington truck stop

By Jena WilliamsVote Now!

TIRES wants to hear from you! Please vote for your favorite truck stop for 2011 by commenting below. Tell us what makes it the best. Things to consider: healthiest food choices, places to exercise, cleanest facilities, friendliest or most helpful staff, safest parking. Let us know what other categories are important to you. The winning truck stop will be recognized as TIRES blog readers’ 2011 Washington Truck Stop of the Year. Please use the comments below to vote. Deadline will be midnight, January 31, 2012.

Protect your assets…

By Jena Williams

A recent article in Transport Topics discusses the expected shortage of diesel mechanics and suggests the best and most effective methods of finding and hiring them.

Qualified diesel technicians are getting harder to find, a situation the transportation trade press has lamented for the past decade with headlines such as “Who Will Fix Your Trucks?”

Ironically, as the diesel technician labor pool shrinks, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts an 11% growth in demand for their services, with graduation rates of certified diesel mechanics falling considerably short of that… read more

Even more important than recruiting new mechanics is to take good care of the ones you’ve got. Here are some publications produced by TIRES on safety training for mechanics.

What tips have we missed? Do you have any to share with the industry?