Archive for March, 2020

COVID-19 Stress Management for Truck Drivers

Truck drivers must always be ready to take quick, sensible action at any time behind the wheel. A wrong response to an emerging traffic hazard or other dangerous work condition can cause serious injuries, death, and costly damage. But keeping a constant high level of readiness can be a challenge when job stress diminishes a driver’s mental and physical health. As the coronavirus outbreak interrupts established work routines and expectations, it can quickly increase previous levels of job stress among truck drivers.  

Medical research shows that chronic job stress under normal everyday driving conditions can raise the risk of psychological, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal health problems. It can also worsen preexisting medical problems. A driver having these problems may pose a risk to themselves, their co-workers, and other motorists. The risk may grow if fear and anxiety caused by COVID-19 (coronavirus) intensify job stress.

Stress Management for Driver Safety, Health, and Wellness

One of the best ways for trucking companies to help drivers cope with job stress at any time is to have a stress management and training plan in their safety programs. Following such a plan can help employees identify workplace stress, its sources, and its effects on their safety, health, and wellness. It should also show management and employees how to prevent and control stress. Effective job stress management can improve employee health and wellness, equipment operation, attendance, productivity, employee retention, morale, and job satisfaction.

Use the attached tip sheet and following resources to help you get started.

Keep Trucking Safe:

Managing COVID-19’s Impacts on Driver Stress

Dealing with Stress at Work

Got Stress? poster

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health:

Stress. . .at Work

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Workplace Health and Job Stress Management


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Social Distancing and Other Coronavirus Prevention Tips for Truck Drivers

As the COVID-19 outbreak grows, the Keep Trucking Safe team wants to stay connected with truck drivers, sharing virus prevention tips and other information to keep them safe and healthy on the road. Being on the road during the outbreak puts drivers at higher risk of contracting and spreading the disease. Sharing accurate prevention information is one of the best ways to combat the virus. We will be posting free educational tip sheets on hand washing, cough etiquette, stress management, mental health, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and other everyday measures to prevent the disease and its effects from spreading among truck drivers. While you are still working hard to transport goods during this trying time, we’ll be working to help get you the best prevention information to keep you safe.       

Our first tip sheet shows some ways that social distancing can help you stay connected with your co-workers and customers while avoiding close contact with them. Although truck drivers are less likely to work from home to avoid the virus, there are still several social distancing measures you can use on the road. Please visit our Twitter site and stay tuned for more information on other topics coming out soon.


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COVID-19 Prevention Steps for Truck Drivers

More employees are working from home in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. However, as mobile workers, truck drivers are not likely to be among them. As a result, drivers should be extra cautious to avoid sickness on the road. Drivers have a higher risk of contracting and spreading the disease if they make frequent stops and have face-to-face interactions with many different people. Risk is especially higher for older drivers and those having pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes and lung disease. Truck stops, rest areas, fueling stations, terminal yards, and other trucking-related places should post disease prevention information and take preventative sanitary measures to keep drivers safe.

Companies should plan, prepare and respond using a strategy that encourages sick employees to stay home, separates sick employees, emphasizes respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene, performs routine environmental cleaning, advises employees before traveling to affected areas, and provides appropriate personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer, disinfectants, and tissue paper. Have a list of area medical facilities and phone numbers ready to give to your drivers. Make sure your drivers’ emergency contact information is up-to-date and be prepared to assist and support them and their loved ones if they get sick.   

There currently are no vaccines for the virus and no one is immune. Symptoms appear 2-14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. If you feel that you are sick, do not go to work, stay away from other people, call your doctor immediately, and tell your employer.

If you must be on the road, use the following tips* to protect yourself against COVID-19 and to prevent its spread.

Steps to protect yourself:

Clean your hands often and after each stop

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Keeping individuals at least 6 feet apart is ideal based on what is known about COVID-19. If this is not feasible, efforts should be made to keep individuals as far apart as is practical.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Steps to protect others:

Cover coughs and sneezes

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Clean and disinfect

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces often, after each delivery and if you are slip seating. This includes steering wheels, seats, dashboard, shifter knobs, grab handles, CB microphones, cell phones, ELD screens and buttons, keys, clipboards, tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, cups, desks, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

* Tips adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Visit Keep Trucking Safe for more safety and health information and training resources for truck drivers.

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Always Expect a Train

Better regulations, enforcement, engineering, and training have greatly reduced train and motor vehicle collisions across the United States. In fact, collisions declined 83 percent from 12,000 in 1972 to 2,123 in 2017, significantly reducing fatalities and injuries. However, reaching zero collisions requires more education, especially on how to drive safely through railroad crossings.

While trains collide with trucks at railroad crossings far less than with cars, truck collisions can be much more severe. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data show that in the United States, 112 fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred at railroad crossings from 2010-2017. Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission data show that in Washington State, 67 railroad crossing collisions involved semi-trucks from 2010-2018. These incidents resulted in 2 deaths, 10 injuries, and many thousands of dollars in property damage.

Attempting to beat a train at a railroad crossing is always a bad decision that can cost your life. Trains are closer and faster than they may seem from a truck cab window. The average freight train traveling at 55 mph needs a mile or more to stop. By the time a train engineer sees you, it’s nearly always too late for them to fully stop before hitting you. The more you know about railroad crossing safety, the better prepared you’ll be to drive and thrive each day. Use the following tips to stay safe at highway-rail crossings.

Approaching and crossing train tracks:

  • Know your railroad crossing signs and signals.
  • Use only designated crossings.
  • Always expect a train when you approach a crossing.
  • Stop at least 15 feet away from a crossing.
  • Put away your cell phone, it’s illegal and can distract you from seeing or hearing a train.
  • Turn off your radio and fan so you can listen for approaching trains.
  • Look both ways before going through a crossing.
  • Never drive through a crossing unless you can clear it without stopping.
  • At a multiple track crossing, wait for the train to pass, then look both ways for other trains before driving on.
  • Never drive around lowered gates – it’s illegal and deadly.
  • Make sure that trailer landing gear is fully retracted to prevent getting stuck on crossings.

If your truck stalls or gets stuck:

  • Get yourself and any passengers out of the truck immediately.
  • If a train is coming, get out and move quickly toward the oncoming train and away from the tracks at a 45-degree angle. This is to protect you from being hit by debris that will fly in the same direction of the train’s path. 
  • When you are a safe distance from the tracks, call the 800 number on the blue Emergency Notification System sign at the crossing, or call 911 to alert trains of your location. Do this even if you do not see a train.

To report a rail crossing signal malfunction or other problem:

  • Call the 800 number on the blue Emergency Notification System sign at the crossing. Provide the location, crossing number (if posted), and the name of the road or highway that crosses the tracks.
  • Call the local police or 911 if you cannot locate the emergency phone number at the crossing.

Get free rail crossing safety training resources:

Keep Trucking Safe Railroad Crossing Safety Tip Sheet.

Operation Lifesaver’s Rail Safety Education for Professional Drivers includes railroad crossing safety information, videos, eLearnings and other training materials.

Federal Railroad Administration’s Emergency Notification System sign visor card here.

Federal Railroad Administration’s Rail Crossing Locator Mobile App lets users get information about specific railroad crossings in the United States. The app can also be used to report an emergency or safety concern about a railroad crossing.

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Keep it 20/20 in 2020

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month, a time to take action to prevent eye injuries at work. The annual observance began as an effort of Prevent Blindness, the nation’s leading voluntary eye health and safety organization, to provide eye safety education and injury prevention resources to employers.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that around 2,000 workplace eye injuries requiring medical attention occur each day in the United States. About 20% of these injuries result in missing one or more workdays to recover. Temporary or permanent vision loss are the outcome of 10-20% of total work-related eye injuries.

Common causes of workplace eye injuries include airborne particles and objects that can strike, scrape, or penetrate the eyes. Chemical, thermal, and flash burns are also major causes of eye injuries. Workers can also acquire infectious eye diseases from exposures to viruses and bacteria.

The best way to prevent workplace eye injuries is to have a company safety program that identifies, assesses, eliminates, or controls hazards that can cause such incidents. You can achieve this by performing job hazard analyses that identify eye injury hazards and prevention solutions. Providing safe equipment, tools, materials, sanitary conditions, safety training, and personal protective equipment (PPE) can prevent most workplace eye injuries.

In addition to having a safety program, Washington State workplace safety rules require employers to provide appropriate PPE to workers who are exposed to eye injury hazards. Depending on the specific hazard, PPE selection may include:

  • Non-prescription and prescription safety glasses.
  • Goggles.
  • Eye protection with side shields.
  • Face shields.
  • Welding helmets.
  • Full-face respirators.

PPE must meet current American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z87.1 standards. The International Safety Equipment Association’s Eye and Face Protection Selection Guide can help you find the right PPE for your workers.

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