Archive for category general training

Litter Prevention and Load Securement Emphasis begins May 28

Image of blue square with the text "Secure Your Load For Safer Roads!"

As a part of Washington’s new We Keep Washington Litter Free campaign, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) will be conducting statewide emphasis patrols over four weekends from May 28 to June 20. The patrols will coincide with National Secure Your Load Day, which takes place annually on June 6th to remind motorists about the importance of secure loads and litter prevention.

Unsecured loads and road debris cause serious traffic safety risks. According to WSP Sgt. Darren Wright, “Every year, road debris contributes to an average of nearly 90,000 property-related crashes on U.S. roadways. More than 17,000 people are injured from those crashes and over 700 are fatal. . .These crashes are entirely preventable and the power to stop them is in the hands of Washington drivers.” Debris on Washington State highways cause about 300 traffic crashes and 30 injuries every year. More than 12 million pounds of litter ends up on Washington roadways and up to 40% – almost 5 million pounds – comes from unsecured cargo and debris blowing out of pickup truck beds.

State troopers as well as environmental and road officials are always on the lookout for drivers with unsecured loads to keep roadways safe, clean, and clear. Violations for littering and unsecured loads are punishable with fines from $50 to $5000 and potential jail time for severe offenses that cause bodily harm or property damage.

Secure Your Load Day began with activist Robin Abel, the force behind Maria’s Law, which criminalizes improperly secured loads. Abel pushed for the law after her 24-year-old daughter Maria Federici suffered near-fatal injuries which left her blinded after unsecured particleboard from a rented trailer smashed through her car’s windshield on I-405 in Renton. Abel’s work has spread, attracting over 40 other states and territories to participate in Secure Your Load Day.

Tips for Truck Drivers

Unsecured loads cause injuries and fatalities that are 100% preventable. Here are a few tips to help make sure your load is secure:

  • Binders, chains, nettings, and tarps must be securely fastened to the trailer.
  • Make sure unused dunnage, broken pallets, or other loose debris are cleared off your trailer.
  • Freight should be neatly stacked and tightly fastened inside trailers.
  • Don’t overload your vehicle.
  • Double check to make sure your trailer doors are properly closed.
  • Keep your cab clean to make sure trash or debris do not fly out of the window.

If you see someone traveling with an unsecured load, pull over to a safe area and call 911 to report it.

Visit the following links for additional information and resources:

Washington State Department of Ecology:

Litter prevention website

Load securement tips

Tip sheet in English

Tip sheet in Spanish

Secure You Load Safety video

Washington State Patrol:

Secure Your Load video

King County:

Load securement resources and information

Secure Your Load for Safer Roads video

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:

Driver’s Handbook on cargo securement

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National Work Zone Awareness Week, April 26-30

As spring returns with warmer and longer days, roadway work zones will appear more often. That’s why it is time to remind ourselves as motorists that we share a responsibility in keeping work zones safe. National Work Zone Awareness Week is an educational campaign that invites government, business, safety professionals, and the public to help spread the word about work zone safety.

Although work zones are safer than ever, the risk of distracted drivers hitting road construction workers remains high. U.S. Department of Labor data indicates that vehicular incidents caused 444 roadway work zone fatalities across the nation between 2011 and 2018. The Washington State Department of Transportation reports that around 680 highway work zone injuries occur each year in the state. In the past 10 years, officers in the state have cited inattention in 5,335 work zone crashes.

Go Orange for Work Zone Safety

Orange makes work zones safer as the color of hi-visibility vests, traffic signs, cones, and barrels. National Work Zone Awareness Week will celebrate Go Orange Day, Wednesday, April 28 to show support for work zone safety and the families of victims who were killed in work zones.

Move Over or Pay

Washington State’s “Move Over” law requires drivers to proceed with due caution, slow down and, if safe, move over or change lanes when approaching any authorized construction or maintenance vehicle or worker in a designated roadway work zone. The rules specifically describe work zones to include adjacent road lanes 200 feet before and after stationary or slow-moving construction, maintenance, solid waste, or utility service vehicles that display flashing or rotating lights that meet state requirements for vehicle warning light systems. Fines range from $136 for failing to move over to $1,000 for reckless endangerment offenses. Penalties can also include jail sentences and driver’s license suspensions. Following the rules of the road will keep Washington State’s roadway workers alive and safe.

Use the following tips to keep work zones safe:

  • Slow Down – follow the speed limit, it’s there for your safety.
  • Be Kind – road crews are out there working to keep our highways safe.
  • Pay Attention – both to workers directing you and surrounding traffic; put your phone away when driving.
  • Stay Calm – expect delays, leave early or take a detour if possible; no meeting or appointment is worth risking someone’s life.

Use the links below get information and resources for your own National Work Zone Awareness Week event or training:

Washington State work zone traffic laws

RCW 46.61, Rules of the Road

RCW 46.61.212, Approaching emergency zones – Penalty – Violation

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries

Work zone and flagger safety

Asphalt worker safety

Keep Trucking Safe

No Distance, Know Pain tip sheet

Distracted Driving is Dangerous tip sheet

This is What Motorists See poster

National Work Zone Safety information Clearinghouse

Homepage

Washington State Department of Transportation

Work zone safety

Work Zone Safety Awareness Week

U.S. Federal Highway Administration

National Work Zone Awareness WeekWork Zone Management Program

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Stress Less, Feel Better

Image of person with his head up high and eyes close with a title "Stop Stress In Its Tracks"
Image source: American Heart Association

Driving a truck requires being ready to take quick, sensible action at any time. Responding wrongly to a traffic hazard or other dangerous work condition can end in serious injuries, death, and costly damage. But maintaining a constant high level of readiness can be a challenge when workplace stress diminishes a driver’s mental and physical health. Medical research increasingly shows that chronic stress can raise the risk of mental and physical health problems. Prolonged stress can cause a driver to become a risk to themselves, their co-workers, and other motorists. Trucking companies can reduce workplace stress by including stress management and training in their safety programs.

Stress Factors and Symptoms for Truck Drivers

Truck drivers experience stress from several sources. Recent studies have listed the following factors as leading stressors among truck drivers:

  • Long routes and social isolation
  • Abrupt schedule changes, rotating schedules, long detention times, and tight deadlines
  • Compliance with hours of service regulations
  • Traffic delays and adverse road and weather conditions
  • Road rage and fear of violence
  • Vehicle noise, equipment vibration, and temperature extremes
  • Transporting hazardous freight

Signs and symptoms of stress include:

  • Fatigue
  • Digestive problems
  • Anxiety, headaches, and depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration issues
  • High blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke
  • Social withdrawal
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Workplace violence
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

Stress Management for Driver Safety, Health, and Wellness

A trucking company can reduce workplace stress by including a stress management and training plan in their safety program. Having such a plan can help employees identify workplace stress, its sources, and its effects on their safety, health, and wellness. It should also provide stress prevention and control methods for employees. Effective workplace stress management can improve driver health and wellness, equipment operation, attendance, productivity, employee retention, morale, and job satisfaction.

Stress management methods include:

  • Improving work schedules and driving routes that are more compatible with demands and responsibilities outside the job
  • Providing health, vacation, and retirement benefits
  • Balancing work and family life
  • Teamwork
  • Regular medical exams
  • Taking breaks and getting enough sleep
  • Eating healthy food and staying hydrated
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Preventing job hazards
  • Having a vehicle maintenance program
  • Arranging safe lodging when needed
  • Providing ergonomic equipment and well-fitting PPE

Plan a stress management plan for your safety program using these resources:

Keep Trucking Safe:

Dealing with Stress at Work

Got Stress? poster

Managing COVID-19’s Impacts on Driver Stress

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health:

Stress. . .at Work

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Workplace Stress Management

American Heart Association

Stress Management

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A Toolkit to Educate Employees about COVID-19 Vaccination

The COVID-19 pandemic has been with us for over a year. During that time, scientists and researchers have worked hard to develop vaccines that will provide a strong defense against infection. Making vaccination effective requires spreading the word and making sure that essential workers know that vaccines are safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has designed a COVID-19 Vaccination Communication Toolkit for Essential Workers to help employers build confidence in this important new vaccine. The toolkit can help trucking companies educate their workforce about COVID-19 vaccines, raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination, and address common questions and concerns. 

The toolkit contains a variety of resources including: 

  • Key messages
  • An educational slide deck
  • FAQs
  • Posters / flyers
  • Newsletter content
  • A plain language vaccine factsheet (available in several different languages)
  • A template letter for employees
  • Social media content
  • Vaccination sticker templates

Until the vaccines are widely available, it is still vital to maintain social distancing, wear masks, cover your cough, and wash / sanitize your hands to prevent illness.

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Stay Upbeat with a Healthy Heart

American Heart Month takes place each February to raise awareness of the dangers of heart disease. Since its first observance in 1964, improvements in medical research, treatment, and public education have greatly helped people live longer and healthier lives. But heart disease is still America’s top health threat and killer, claiming around 2,300 lives each day.

Heart disease is a major health problem among truck drivers. Research shows that truck drivers have higher heart disease rates than other workers. Truck drivers also have a higher prevalence of heart disease risk factors, including obesity, hypertension, and smoking. These risks stem from lifestyle and occupational factors such as irregular schedules, long hours, physical inactivity, high stress, and limited healthy food options on the road. Age, gender, family history, and social factors can also influence a person’s risk of heart disease. People with poor heart health are also at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Heart Disease and Trucking Safety

Heart disease can interfere with the ability to control and drive a truck safely. In a sample of 182 fatal truck collisions, the National Transportation Safety Board attributed 10% of collisions to medical problems, with 90% of them being heart-related. A recent study also shows a link between heart disease risk and crashes among truck drivers. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, a result of high blood pressure and plaque buildup in the arteries. The buildup can create blood clots that block blood flow to the heart, which can lead to a heart attack. Truck drivers who feel a heart attack approaching should immediately pull over to a safe area and call 911. Warning signs of a heart attack can differ between men and women. While chest pain and discomfort are most common to both, women are more likely to have the following symptoms:

  • Back and/or jaw pain.
  • Nausea, shortness of breath, cold sweats, and dizziness.
  • Unusual fatigue.
  • Indigestion and abdominal pain.
  • Pain and discomfort when resting or sleeping.

As it raises safety risks, heart disease can potentially disqualify a truck driver from holding a commercial driver license. Don’t wait to be disqualified or for a serious incident to occur before taking your heart health seriously. In addition to following your doctor’s orders, consider adopting these healthy habits to prevent heart disease:

  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Manage stress.
  • Manage diabetes.
  • Get enough sleep.

Companies can help their drivers beat heart disease by enhancing their safety programs to include:

  • Training on healthy diets, smoking cessation, exercise breaks, and stress management.
  • Providing fitness facilities at your terminals, locating truck stops that have them, and offering gym memberships.
  • Teach drivers about power naps and sleep hygiene.
  • Have incentive programs that motivate and reward healthy lifestyles.
  • Provide health insurance.
  • Allow time in driving schedules for medical visits.



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In Memorial to Washington State Truck Drivers Who Died at Work in 2020

Image of multiple candles.

We at Keeptruckingsafe.org send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the truck drivers we lost in 2020. We believe every worker deserves to go home safe each night. It is never easy to find the right words to talk about losing members of our community. These drivers gave their all to provide for their families and to transport the goods that keep America strong. We truly appreciate and respect the hard work trucking professionals do each day. We hope that by keeping safety as part of the daily conversation, we can contribute to the end of trucking related deaths in Washington State.

Below we have listed each truck driver in order of date of death. If we could find an obituary, it is included. Please use the comments to pay your respects to these drivers. We did our best to include obituaries, but were unable to find some. If you are aware of any we missed, add them to the comments.

Gone too soon are:

Ivan Cardenas, 34, Log Truck Driver

Died: June 29, 2020

Mr. Cardenas was driving his log truck on a forest service road when he lost control on a corner and the truck left the road and rolled over.

Obituary

Daniel Armstrong, 63, Truck Driver

Died: July 27, 2020

Mr. Armstrong was a truck driver for an electrical utilities company when he passed away in the parking lot of his employer.

Rodney Petroff, 64, Truck Driver

Died: August 3, 2020

Mr. Petroff died when his tow truck was struck by a semi-truck when he attempted to make a U-turn on a state highway.

Obituary

Thank you to Randy Clark and the Washington State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program for providing the data.

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Lead the Way with a Smart START

Inspiring other trucking companies to enhance their safety programs can help prevent injuries and fatalities across the industry. You can start the trend by becoming the company that others will look up to. Start now by participating in the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ Safety Through Achieving Recognition Together (START) program. START is a new on-site consultation program that assists small businesses in achieving safety program excellence. Having a high-performance safety program will make your workplace safer, lower costs, and improve morale. The program’s recognition of your achievement will make you stand out in your business community as a leader and model to follow.  

The program requirements are:

  • Employ fewer than 50 workers at a specific work site, and not more than 250 at all work sites within Washington State (some flexibility is allowed).
  • Operate for at least one year at the particular work site.
  • Demonstrate an injury / illness rate below the industry average for that industry.
  • Receive full-service safety and health consultation visits for a comprehensive review of their safety and health management systems; and agree to correct all hazards.
  • Receive a free risk consultation.
  • Agree to provide notification when changes in working conditions or processes introduce new hazards into the workplace.

Learn more about the benefits of L&I’s START program here. You can also contact the program coordinator:

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Keep the Holidays Happy, Look Out for Drunk Drivers

Although fewer vehicles are on the road due to COVID-19 restrictions, the risk of drunk driving crashes during the holidays remains high. This is because the holidays are historically a time that sees an increase in drunk driving, which kills around 300 people each year between Christmas and New Year’s Day. According to the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission, nearly half of all traffic deaths in Washington involve an impaired driver, and around 100 people are arrested for impaired driving each day between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

Truck drivers are at a much higher risk of being in an alcohol-related crash during the holidays. However, the risks mainly come from other motorists, as national traffic safety data repeatedly shows truck drivers to be the least impaired users of the road. Tighter safety regulations and better training have kept drunk driving among truck drivers at low levels for over twenty years. This means that truck drivers must stay alert to the possibility of impaired drivers traveling the lanes around them.

As state and local law enforcement agencies step up holiday drunk driving patrols, truck drivers can help spot and report drunk drivers too. Your vigilance on the road can help keep roadways safe for everyone.

Ten signs that a motorist near you may be drunk or high:

  • Tailgating, weaving, swerving, or driving into opposing traffic.
  • Straddling the center lane marker.
  • Almost striking an object, curb, or vehicle.
  • Driving with headlights off at night.
  • Improper signaling.
  • Turning abruptly or illegally.
  • Slow response to traffic signals.
  • Quick acceleration or deceleration.
  • Stopping without cause or erratic braking.
  • Driving slower than 10 mph below the speed limit.

What to do when you see a drunk driver:

  • Stay as far away as possible from the other vehicle. Don’t try to pass it or get the driver’s attention.
  • Try to get the vehicle’s license plate number and make, model, color, etc. Do not risk your own safety while trying to get this information.
  • Call 911. Pull over safely before making the call. Describe the vehicle and give its exact location, including the name of the road or cross streets and its direction of travel. Give your reasons for suspecting why the driver may be impaired.

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Tarp It, Tie It, Strap It

Make sure your load is properly secured before making deliveries. 

Secure Your Load Week is October 19-23, a time to remind ourselves as motorists about the importance of keeping roadways safe from unsecured loads and litter.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2016 unsecured loads caused 683 deaths, 19,663 injuries, and 90,266 traffic incidents in the United States. The Washington State Patrol reports that debris on Washington roadways causes approximately 400 collisions every year. An estimated 40% of the litter on state highways comes from unsecured loads. In 2019, state troopers investigated 154 collisions caused by unsecured loads and contacted 7,386 motorists who failed to secure their vehicles’ load.

Enforced under Maria’s Law, unsecured load violations in Washington State are punishable with fines up to $228. Violators face penalties up to $5,000 and potential jail time if their unsecured load falls out of their vehicle and injures someone. Maria’s Law is named after Maria Federici, who in 2004 suffered near-fatal injuries that left her blinded and traumatized after unsecured wood from a rented trailer smashed through her car’s windshield on I-405 in Renton.

During Secure Your Load Week, the Washington State Patrol, Washington State Department of Transportation, Washington Traffic Safety Commission, Washington State Department of Ecology, and local agencies will step up their work to keep highways safe, clean, and litter free. They ask that you call 911 to report unsecured loads, littering, and dumping.

Unsecured loads cause injuries and fatalities that are 100% preventable. Here are a few tips for truck drivers to help make sure your load is secure:

  • Binders, chains, nettings, and tarps must be securely fastened to the trailer.
  • Make sure unused dunnage, broken pallets, or other loose debris are cleared off your trailer.
  • Freight should be neatly stacked and tightly fastened inside trailers.
  • Don’t overload your vehicle.
  • Double check to make sure your trailer doors are properly closed.
  • Keep your cab clean to make sure trash or debris do not fly out of the window.

Also, ask yourself the following questions before getting on the road:

  • Is there a chance of debris or cargo falling or blowing out of my vehicle?
  • Is my load secured at the back, sides and top?
  • What would happen to my load if I had to brake suddenly, I hit a bump, or another vehicle hit me?
  • Would I want my loaded vehicle driving through my neighborhood?
  • Would I feel safe if I were driving behind my vehicle?
  • Is “secure your load” on my company’s safety checklist?  

Visit the following links for additional information and resources:

Washington State Patrol lost or unsecured load reporting website.

Washington State Department of Ecology litter laws website.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Driver’s Handbook on cargo securement.

King County load securement resources and information.

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Have You Heard? October is National Protect Your Hearing Month

October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. The annual observance is a time to learn about noise-induced hearing loss and ways to prevent it. Being exposed to loud noise can cause immediate or gradual hearing loss or other damage in one or both ears. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that hearing loss due to loud noise may affect up to 24 percent of American adults under age 70.

Protecting Truck Drivers from Hearing Loss

Truck drivers work in places that may expose them to extremely loud noise. This includes terminal yards, maintenance shops, warehouses, construction areas, and airports. Sirens, engine brakes, passing vehicles, motorcycles, and jack hammers are also common sources of loud noise on the road. Then there is the ambient combined sound of engine, exhaust, and tires that enters the cab, especially in older trucks. This all makes it hard to hear conversations, warning signals, and vehicle malfunctions even without a hearing impairment. Hearing loss makes things much worse.

Decibel (dB) units measure loudness. Sound levels over 80 decibels are harmful to the human ear. A diesel truck located 50 feet away can produce sound that measures over 90 dB. Vehicles with defective exhaust systems and other faulty parts can increase noise. In-cab noise levels in standard tractors can easily exceed 90 dB when the windows are open and the radio is on. Daily workplace noise exposures should stay within NIOSH recommended exposure limits to prevent hearing loss. Higher noise levels have lower exposure limits, and lower noises levels have higher limits. For example, if the exposure level is 91 dB, workers should only be exposed for two hours. An increase to 94 dB lowers the exposure limit to 60 minutes.

Protecting your drivers’ hearing will prevent ear injury and benefit their overall health. In Washington State, employers are required to train employees who work near loud noise about the hazards of noise-induced hearing loss and steps they can take to protect themselves. The following hearing protection tips and resources can help:

  • Identify, eliminate, or control noise sources when possible.
  • Wear hearing protection such as earplugs at loud delivery and loading sites as long as it does not reduce your ability to hear warning signals, moving vehicles, and other workers.
  • Rely more on visual assessments if inspecting vehicle while wearing hearing protection.

Cab

  • Keep windows closed while driving if possible.
  • Keep radio volume to a low level.
  • Soundproof your cab.

Truck and trailer

  • Keep vehicle noise-suppression systems, such as exhaust mufflers, in good serviceable condition.
  • Maintain vehicle and trailer equipment to eliminate vibrations, squeaks, and rattling.
  • Install aerodynamic fairing to reduce wind noise.

Free hearing protection resources:

NIOSH Hearing Loss Prevention website

Free NIOSH Sound Level Meter App

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries Noise and Hearing Protection

OSHA Occupational Noise Exposure website

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