If you are a big-rig driver in California, you likely know that your occupation is one of the most dangerous ways to earn a living. Hauling cargo across the country will expose you to more than road accidents. However, familiarizing yourself with known hazards of hauling cargo might keep you out of harm’s way.
The type of cargo you transport could pose unique risks. If your load is toxic chemicals or waste, you will have to mitigate load-specific dangers. However, some hazards you will face are common, regardless of the load.
Some trucking hazards exist, regardless of the cargo load. An example is the lifestyle of truckers that typically restricts the physical exercise they get. Your diet options might be food offered at gas stations. The lack of nutritious food could lead to malnutrition, poor digestion or even diabetes.
Trucking could be a lonely and stressful job that will limit your contact with loved ones, which might ultimately affect your mental health. Many big-rig drivers believe smoking helps them cope with boredom on long-distance trips, increasing their risks of developing lung cancer.
Your job will have you sitting for hours on end, and if your seat does not provide the necessary support, it could lead to permanent damage to your back. Furthermore, the typical vibration of a truck’s steering wheel could result in aching joints, and the brightness of the sunlight during the day and the headlights at night could cause long-term eye damage.
Truck drivers’ responsibilities do not stop at driving. You will do some vehicle maintenance, and lift and carry heavy objects during loading and unloading. Hooking up the trailer and uncoupling it also pose risks. If you do not use the correct lifting technique, musculoskeletal injuries, strains and sprains could result, many of which could cause long-term damage.
Along with the other hazards, vehicle accidents will always be a risk in your job. The first precaution is never to drive without first buckling up. Compliance with federal driving time regulations could prevent fatigue-related accidents. Furthermore, there will always be passenger vehicle drivers who are ignorant of the no-zones where you cannot see them. Another important safety precaution is to study weather predictions before each trip, and adjust your driving techniques accordingly.
What to do if you suffer work-related injuries
The California workers’ compensation program will cover medical expenses and lost wages if you suffer trucking-related injuries. However, the benefits claims process could become complicated if you were injured while hauling loads across state lines.