Archive for January, 2014

Ever wonder how best to invest your health and safety budget?

By Jena Williams

If you like to make data-driven decisions, especially when it comes to investing, you will appreciate this recently released study by the TIRES research team entitled Work-related injuries in Washington State’s Trucking Industry, by industry sector and occupation.

The research makes use of Washington State’s comprehensive workers’ compensation data. One of the key findings is: Non-traumatic musculoskeletal disorders of the neck, back and upper extremities are the most frequent injuries across all industry sectors and occupations in the trucking industry. If you’re thinking good grief, what do all those hundred dollar words mean, I’m with you! So let’s break it down:

  • Non-traumatic means the injury didn’t occur because of a single incident.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders includes injuries to the muscles, tendons, connective tissues, bones, nerves and joints.
  • Upper extremities are limbs, and include the shoulder, arm, wrist and hand.

These types of injuries are sometimes referred to as repetitive motion or overuse injuries and can occur from tasks like throwing straps or tarps, shifting, lifting, pulling or pushing, or driving a vibrating truck for long periods of time without breaks.

Are there ways you can make these tasks easier for yourself or your employees? One way might be to keep the work close to your body and the movements between your waist and shoulders rather than above shoulder level or below knee level. Small tweaks to how a job is done can prevent injuries and save your company money in the long run.

More to come as we delve into what we’ve learned!

If you want to dive into the whole report, it is available here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457513005095

Citation:
Smith, C. K., Williams, J. Work related injuries in Washington State’s Trucking Industry, by industry sector and occupation. Accident Analysis and Prevention 65 (2014) 63-71.

Top 5

By Jena Williams

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Our hope in developing the TIRES blog is to open up conversation with you, our readers, on topics of interest to the trucking community, especially as it relates to health and safety.

We truly believe that by combining our efforts, knowledge and expertise we can make a difference in the industry to make it safer and to keep our valuable workers on the job as long as possible.

Across the nation, the labor pool is aging with the average age in trucking being over 50. Finding and keeping capable workers is necessary to stay in business. Keeping them safe, healthy and on the job is our mutual goal.

So I hope you’ll join me in the discussion this year. But first, let’s review the top 5 blog articles as accessed by our readers in 2013:

First place: Surprisingly, this one was originally published March 5, 2012, Tire Sock” – an alternative to chains?

Second place: Published December 1, 2011, Santa Claus is coming to town…

Third place: Published January 14, 2013, In Memoriam

Fourth place: Published March 4, 2013 What’s March Madness got to do with trucking?

And finally in fifth place: Published January 4, 2013 Here’s your opportunity to make an impact

What topics do you want to discuss in 2014? Please respond in the comments below.

In Memoriam

By Jena Williams and Randy Clark

In January of each year, we honor the Washington State trucking industry workers who died in the previous year due to an on-the-job injury by posting this memorial blog. Each year, as we pull the information together, I wish that we didn’t have to, that there would be no truck drivers lost and that this would be an unnecessary blog to write.

Sadly, in 2013, there were five truck drivers lost on the job. Five truck drivers who didn’t come home at the end of their shifts. Five truck drivers whose friends, families, and companies will never be the same again.

We don’t know a lot about the lives they lived but we do know that they worked in an industry that makes our lives better. When you read their obituaries, you see that trucking wasn’t just a job for any of them; it was what they wanted to do. Truck driving was their career of choice. Each driver worked a hard job and lost their lives doing it.

Here is some of the story:

Carl Barnfield, 48, Truck Driver
Died: April 22, 2013

Mr. Barnfield was attempting to disconnect a semi from its trailer, when the driver of the truck pulled forward and ran over him.

http://www.grandforksgazette.ca/obituaries/?cmpRegion=&paper=264&paperSelect=0&submit=&name=&skip=80

Robert Valdez, 37, Truck Driver
Died: October 7, 2013

Mr. Valdez died when his truck carrying a load of potatoes collided with another truck that ran a stop sign at an intersection.

http://washington.obituaries.funeral.com/2013/10/10/robert-g-valdez/

James Morton, 51, Truck Driver
Died: November 13, 2013

Mr. Morton died when his semi-truck left a state highway and crashed.

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/tricityherald/obituary.aspx?pid=168216540

Dale Weaver, 59, Truck Driver
Died: December 16, 2013

Mr. Weaver died when a vehicle crossed the median of an interstate highway and struck his semi-truck.

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/xeniagazette/obituary.aspx?pid=168628277

Michael Webber, 37, Log Truck Driver
Died: December 23, 2013

Mr. Webber died when his loaded log truck crashed after failing to negotiate a curve on a logging road.

http://thedailyworld.com/obituaries/michael-james-webber

Truck drivers, we appreciate you. We will continue to work to keep you safe on the job. I look forward to the year when we don’t have to write this story. Here’s to a safe and healthy 2014!

Link to our previous memorial blogs:

2012: http://tires.lni.wa.gov/post/40523972961/in-memoriam

2011: http://tires.lni.wa.gov/post/15568957315/in-memoriam

What is taking so long?

By Jena Williams

On Monday, December 16, a horrible collision closed southbound I-5 near Mounts Rd. Two hours later, one lane was finally reopened. That collision impacted many people and resulted in a six hour backup on the freeway.

People were impacted, but life will never be the same again for the friends and family of a truck driver who was killed. Through no fault of his own, 59-year-old Dale Weaver of Jamestown, Ohio lost his life.

The Washington State Department of Transportation’s Blog outlines what happened and who responded to care for the wounded, remove Mr. Weaver’s body, stabilize the cargo, process the crime scene (fatal collisions are investigated as crime scenes), clean up the mess and get everyone moving again.

It’s amazing to see the number of people that quickly work together, putting aside the painful emotions of dealing with the current tragedy to get us back to business as usual. It’s a harsh thing to admit that we must get back to business as usual, but hopefully in those long moments waiting to get moving again we have time to be grateful and also time to consider how we can impact safety on the roads.

WSDOT Blog: http://wsdotblog.blogspot.com/2013/12/anatomy-of-response-i-5-at-mounts-rd.html

News report on collision: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2013/12/17/2953050/no-cause-yet-in-big-crash-that.html

Things to consider keeping in your vehicle in case your 5 minute ride on I-5 becomes a 6 hour wait.

  • Protein bars or nuts.
  • Bottled water.
  • Medications that need to be taken at regular intervals.
  • Coat or blanket for all.
  • Well-rested and healthy driver.
  • Our patience.
  • A good book?

Our thoughts go out to Mr. Weaver’s family and friends. We appreciate the hard work and risks that truck drivers take each day out on the busy highways.