Posts Tagged safety

Stop the Traffic! January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month

The goal of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month is to raise awareness of the human trafficking crisis; to highlight how truck drivers can take action, and to list the warning signs of trafficking and the hotline for drivers to identify and report suspects. Modern-day slavery and human trafficking are horrific violations of human rights that occur whenever people are bought and sold for forced labor or commercial sex. The crisis is global with over 40 million enslaved people around the world today. In the United States, human trafficking exists in all 50 states, with hundreds of thousands of victims, mostly women and children, across the country. It’s also a problem in Washington State as revealed in 2018 when the Washington State Patrol’s Operation Human Freight made 59 arrests and recovered 54 potential human trafficking victims in undercover stings at truck stops and rest areas along I-5 from Federal Way to Centralia.

Human traffickers build their illegal networks by using the nation’s highways. Traffickers often prostitute their victims at truck stops, travel plazas, rest areas, restaurants, and motels. This makes truck drivers vital to the fight against human trafficking. As the eyes and ears of the highways, truck drivers are uniquely positioned to make it harder for traffickers to use the transportation system for their crimes. Indeed, truck drivers have been making a huge impact. According to Truckers Against Trafficking, from December 2007 to June 2019, truck drivers made 2496 calls to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, which helped to identify 1230 victims. In 2017, all Washington State commercial truck driving schools began classroom training on human trafficking as a certification requirement. Trucking companies can help by including human trafficking prevention training in their company safety programs. Using a commercial motor vehicle to commit a human trafficking felony can now result in a lifetime CDL ban.

Truck drivers can help report traffickers and recover victims by using the following tips:

Look out for signs that identify trafficking victims:

  • Lack of knowledge of their whereabouts; not in control of ID / passport.
  • Restricted or controlled communication; not allowed to speak for self.
  • Any mention of making a quota or having a pimp / daddy.
  • Signs of branding or tattooing of trafficker’s name (often on the neck).
  • A van, RV or vehicle with multiple women in a mainly male area and / or dropping women off and picking them up 15-20 minutes later.
  • Signs of bruising.

Report the crime immediately:

  • If you see a crime in progress, call 911 and then call the hotline at 1-888-373-7888 (US), 1-833-900-1010 (Canada), 01800-5533-000 (Mexico), or text INFO or HELP to BeFree (233733).
  • If you’re at a truck stop / travel plaza or any other place of business, tell the manager—they must be aware of what is occurring and assist in ending it.
  • Never approach traffickers. Allow police to deal with traffickers and recover victims. Approaching traffickers is dangerous for you and their victims and can also create problems in the prosecuting the traffickers.

For law enforcement to open an investigation on your tip, they need “actionable information.” This would include:

  • Descriptions of vehicles (make, model, color, license plate, truck and / or USDOT number, etc.) and people (height, weight, hair color, eye color, age, etc.). Take a picture if you can.
  • Specific times and dates (When did you see the event in question take place? What day was it?).
  • Addresses and locations where suspicious activity took place.

Helpful links:

Transportation Leaders Against Human Trafficking

National Criminal Justice Reference Service

The Polaris Project

The Campaign to Restore and Rescue Victims of Human Trafficking under the US Dept. of Health and Human Services

Shared Hope International

Washington Anti-Trafficking Response Network (WARN)

Washington State Attorney General’s Office

Seattle Against Slavery

International Association of Chiefs of Police

The Tronie Foundation

Washington Engage

Stop the Traffik

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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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June 9 is National Forklift Safety Day

National Forklift Safety Day 2020 will take place on June 9 to promote forklift safety best practices, operator training, and equipment inspections with the goal of preventing injuries, fatalities, equipment damage, and many other costly losses.

First used over 100 years ago, forklifts are vital to the commercial transportation and warehousing industry, being used to lift, move, and place freight weighing up to 70 tons. However, forklifts can be extremely hazardous when improperly used. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, forklift related incidents caused 614 worker fatalities and over 49,000 time-loss injuries between 2011 and 2017. Many incidents involved tip-over, crush, and struck-by events that harmed operators and pedestrians.

In trucking, the use of forklifts to load and unload trailers puts truck drivers at high risk of being crushed and struck. Unpublished Washington State workers’ compensation claim data shows that 501 forklift-related injuries occurred within the general and specialized freight trucking sectors between 2006 and 2018. This represents 36 percent of the total forklift related injuries in the State’s transportation and warehousing industry. A third of these injuries were serious, ending in time-loss claims.

An excellent way to reduce the risk of forklift incidents is to perform a job hazard analysis (JHA). A JHA is a step-by-step procedure that involves four basic steps:

  • Selecting the job to be analyzed.
  • Breaking the job down into sequential order.
  • Identifying potential hazards.
  • Finding hazard prevention solutions.

Documenting your findings on a JHA form can help communicate forklift hazard prevention solutions to employees. Including the JHA process in your company safety program can help prevent tragic incidents and keep your employees safe at work.    

National Forklift Safety Day is a great time to step up your forklift safety training and education program for truck drivers, equipment operators, material handlers, and mechanics. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Hold a special safety meeting.
  • Plan a safety knowledge contest.
  • Celebrate successes.
  • Start a new safety practice.
  • Perform a job hazard analysis.
  • Conduct refresher training.

Review safety bulletins or watch a safety video. If COVID-19 poses a challenge, then consider watching the Industrial Truck Association’s virtual event at 9:00 AM ET on June 9. The event will feature speakers and presentations from forklift safety experts representing private industry and state and local government.

Click on the following links for free forklift hazard prevention training materials:

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries:

Safety Topics: Forklifts  

U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA):

Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklift) eTool

Powered Industrial Trucks – Forklifts

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):

Preventing Injuries and Deaths of Workers Who Operate or Work Near Forklifts

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June is National Safety Month

Image source: National Safety Council

National Safety Month takes place every June to raise awareness of the leading causes of injury at work, at home, and on the road. During the month-long observance, thousands of communities, organizations, and health professionals will unite to help people identify hazards and solutions to prevent injuries and fatalities.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017 preventable injury-related deaths totaled 4,414, and medically consulted injuries totaled 4.5 million. Total injury costs were estimated at $161.5 billion, including wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor vehicle property damage, and employer costs.

The best continuous way to prevent injuries and fatalities at work is to have a company safety program. An effective program should include your safety policies, steps to identify job hazards and solutions, and responsibilities for managers, supervisors, and employees. Review, evaluate and update your safety program often to keep it aligned with changing conditions.   

It’s easy to participate in National Safety Month. Start by planning a few activities that will teach your employees how to be safe at work and at home. Some ideas to help get you going include having a safety fair, 5-minute toolbox talks, tip sheets, hands-on training, holding a lunch-n-learn, safety trivia contests, and safety excellence awards.

Check out the links below for resources to plan your events:

Free trucking safety training materials at

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries training, videos & workshops.

National Safety Month training resources from the National Safety Council.

Take the SafeAtWork Pledge and let others know here.

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May is Global Employee Health & Fitness Month

Image source: National Association for Health and Fitness

Global Employee Health & Fitness Month is a worldwide observance to promote health and fitness in the workplace. Practicing a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet and physical exercise is key to avoiding injury and illness and being a dynamic, high-performing worker. For truck drivers, health and fitness are vital to safely operating a vehicle and performing other related job tasks. Healthy and fit drivers benefit business operations because they feel physically better, have higher mental alertness, and comply with CDL medical requirements.

Health and Fitness Challenges for Truck Drivers

Finding opportunities to get nutritious foods and regular exercise can be a challenge for truck drivers. Although truck drivers are always on the go, their access to healthy food options on pick-up and delivery routes often reflects food desert conditions. Truck stops, rest areas, convenience stores, break room vending machines, and fast food restaurants usually offer unhealthy processed foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. Exercise is especially important for long-haul drivers who travel for extended periods without much physical activity. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that truck drivers lack adequate exercise and many see themselves as being out of shape. As a result of eating poorly and not exercising, obesity and morbid obesity are twice as high for long-haul truck drivers than other workers.

Research shows that obesity negatively impacts job performance and can cause sleep apnea, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. A recent RAND study reports that nearly 60 percent of the United States population has one or more of these chronic conditions. Treatment costs for these conditions account for 90% of national health care expenditures. Another study found that combined annual costs of covered medical, sick day, short-term disability, and workers’ compensation claims for normal weight employees averaged $3,830 while costing $8,067 for morbidly obese employees.  

Taking the Onramp to Better Health

A recent nationwide survey of over 20,000 employees found that healthy workers were 16 to 27 percent less likely to have recent absenteeism. It also indicated that higher job performance was more likely for: 

  • 25 percent of workers who ate healthy the entire day.
  • 20 percent of workers who ate five or more servings of fruit and vegetables on four or more days in the past week.
  • 15 percent for workers who exercised for 30 or more minutes on three or more days a week.

Being on the road doesn’t mean that truck drivers have no chances to improve their health. Instead, it means that they must adapt to their mobile workplace by doing things a little differently than most employees who always work in the same place. The tips below can help steer drivers in the right direction, but it is always important to consult a health care provider before making any dietary or lifestyle (exercise) changes, to make sure you can safely do so.

  • Shop at grocery stores and pack your own meals, snacks, and drinks instead of stopping at truck stops, convenience stores, and fast food restaurants.
  • Eat foods that are high in protein and omega 3-fatty acids, and low in carbs, preservatives, and sodium.
  • Eat smaller meals more often during the day to help lose weight and steady your blood sugar level.
  • Drink more water instead of sugary drinks like soda.
  • Sleep in a quiet, comfortable place, and avoid large meals, spicy foods, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, and television before going to sleep.
  • Find a safe area near your truck to take a walk, stretch, do push-ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, or jump rope.
  • Locate truck stops that provide food and services that support a healthy lifestyle for truck drivers.
  • Quit using tobacco products, stimulants, and alcohol.

Click on the following links for more information and resources:

Keep Trucking – Truck Driver Health Issues

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) – Truck Driver Health

NIOSH – Total Worker Health Programs

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute – Driving

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Keeping Truck Drivers Safe from COVID-19

 The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the everyday reality of work-life across the United States. As the disease forces millions of workers to social distance from home, many truck drivers are still part of the essential workforce bravely supporting the nation at this critical moment. Being an essential worker means facing intensified levels of health risk. The risk also increases for truck drivers adjusting to unfamiliar and stressful work situations and environments. Companies are dealing with new challenges in protecting their employees from infection and assisting drivers who do get sick. Drivers worry about where to get medical help or how to self-quarantine if they get sick far from home. As a result, one of the biggest lessons being learned is that it’s crucial to include a sickness prevention and response strategy in your company safety program. You can begin such a strategy using a few basic steps in the attached tip sheet.  

Click on the following links from Keep Trucking Safe for more COVID-19 prevention tips:

You Can’t Touch This

Covering Your Cough and Sneeze

Managing COVID-19’s Impacts on Driver Stress

Handwashing: Your Protection Against Infection

Social Distancing

Image of Keeping Safe from COVID-19 tip sheet.

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Don’t Let a Cough or Sneeze Spread Disease

Usually, they go unnoticed, but in these trying times of COVID-19, a simple cough or sneeze can be fatal. While a cough or sneeze are just the body’s natural responses to keeping its airways clear, they can also spread germs that can cause disease. When germs become airborne, they can be inhaled by other people or settle on surfaces that people touch with their hands. As the daily news reports swelling numbers of infections and deaths, we know with certainty that COVID-19 is highly contagious and easily spread. As a result, we all have to work together to protect our health in this unprecedented moment. Following simple hygiene tips like covering your cough or sneeze, washing your hands often, and social distancing can go a long way to slowing the spread of disease and keeping you and other people around you safe and healthy. The tip sheet below shows you the proper way to cover your cough and sneeze. It is a simple form of disease prevention, but one that requires a little knowledge and preparation to make sure it’s effective.       

Click on the following links from Keep Trucking Safe for more COVID-19 prevention materials:

Managing COVID-19’s Impacts on Driver Stress

Handwashing: Your Protection Against Infection

Social Distancing


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Handwashing: Your Protection Against Infection

Safety and health are in your hands and at your fingertips. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stress that frequent handwashing is the best first-line personal protection against catching and spreading COVID-19. Truck drivers certainly have good reason to take notice of the CDC’s advice. Loading freight, making deliveries, fueling, eating in public areas, and using public restrooms are just some of the ways that truck drivers touch objects covered with germs that cause disease. Most times you never know who touched the fuel pump, ATM keypad, or cooler door before you did or how often those surfaces get disinfected. So why take a chance on your health when you can simply wash your hands to avoid sickness? But proper handwashing requires following some basic guidelines such as when to use soap versus hand sanitizer, and whether you should wash your hands before, during or after certain tasks and activities. Use this tip sheet, Handwashing: Your Protection Against Infection to brush up on the skills and knowledge needed to make hand hygiene one of your best defenses against COVID-19.

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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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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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