Rick* had just returned to work after three days off. He was assigned by his employer’s dispatcher to pick up a load of chilled boxed beef at a customer meat processing facility located in Washington State. He was then to drive his loaded semi-truck with a reefer trailer to a customer location in California. After driving his rig for 3 hours he arrived at the freight pick-up location. He dropped his trailer at the yard’s empty trailer lot. A facility employee used a yard hostler to haul the trailer off to the loading dock to be loaded with freight. Rick then drove his truck away from the area.
THE TRUCK OPERATOR
Rick was a 39-year-old truck driver who had driven refrigeration unit trucks for 10 years. For the past month he had been working for his employer, a general freight trucking company that primarily did long-haul transport of refrigerated goods for customers. This was his first freight pick-up at this customer location.
After the trailer was loaded, the hostler operator deposited the trailer in the loaded trailer lot. Located across from the loading dock, the lot’s surface was a mixture of asphalt and concrete with yellow lines marking parking stalls. It was a part of the yard where loaded trailers are left waiting for their drivers who then back their trucks up to their trailers and hook them up and prepare for departure. At 6:25 p.m. an employee of another carrier drove his truck into the yard and backed it up to his loaded trailer. He was followed a short while later by Dick, who backed his truck up into to the stall to the right of the other truck and trailer. The distance between the two parked trucks and trailers was about 40 inches. It was night and the area was lit by several lights placed on a nearby building. Rick and the other driver stepped out of their trucks and chatted as they hooked up their trailers. They both then did their pre-trip safety checks by walking around their trucks. The driver of the other truck finished his safety check and got into the cab of his truck. He later reported that the last time he saw Rick he was standing at the rear of his trailer, apparently doing his safety check. A high-visibility safety vest had been issued to Rick by his employer, but he was not wearing it at the time of the incident. The vest was in his truck’s cab. The other driver started his engine, checked his mirrors and began pulling out of the stall. As he moved forward, he made a sharp left turn to avoid a yard hostler temporarily parked in the loading dock area in front of him. Rick was standing beside his trailer on its left side cranking up the landing gear as the other truck left the stall. As the other truck moved forward and swung left, the right rear of its trailer struck Rick. The other driver was unaware that Rick had been struck and proceeded to leave the yard and continue down the road. Rick was discovered a short while later by another truck driver who contacted emergency services. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
An investigation determined that several factors contributed to Rick’s death: 1) Failure of the drivers to communicate with each other about their activities; 2) the victim was not wearing a high-visibility vest; 3) lack of site policy requiring drivers to wear high-visibility vests; 4) lot design and width of parking spaces; 5) the location of the yard hostler; and 6) potentially inadequate lighting and visibility at night.
Perform a site survey of facilities where there is truck traffic to identify potential truck vs. pedestrian hazards, including: loading and unloading areas, parking areas, and yards. Take corrective actions to prevent pedestrians from being struck by trucks.
Design site layout of facilities and internal truck traffic routes to provide adequate space for trucks to safely maneuver, load, unload, and park. Facility design should also provide for safe passage for pedestrians. The level of lighting should be sufficient for vehicle and pedestrian activity at night.
- Host facilities should create and enforce a policy requiring drivers to wear a high-visibility safety vest when outside their vehicle.
- Train drivers to initiate and maintain communication with other drivers when working outside their trucks in parking, loading, and unloading areas to ensure that they are not at risk of being struck by the movement of other trucks.
- Employers should provide truck drivers with appropriate high-visibility safety vests and train them to ensure that they are worn in an effective manner whenever they exit their vehicle.
- Install appropriate mirrors on all fleet trucks to ensure that drivers have superior visibility and that blind spots on the right side of the vehicle are eliminated.
- Truck manufacturers, equipment designers, and researchers should continue to develop onboard systems and equipment that allow truck drivers to better detect pedestrians.
Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP)
PO Box 44330
Olympia, WA 98504-4330
Safety Issues is presented by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in partnership with the National Truckers Association (NTA), with major contributions from State partners funded by NIOSH through the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program. The goal of the FACE Program is to prevent occupational fatalities across the nation by identifying and investigating work situations at high risk for injury and then developing and disseminating prevention strategies to those who can intervene in the workplace. State partners who contribute Safety Issues postings based on recent investigative reports are California, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, New Jersey, and Washington.
This month’s Safety Issues is based on an investigative report from the Washington FACE Program. The complete detailed Washington FACE INVESTIGATION REPORT: #11WA012 includes additional case information, recommendations and discussion. This report can be found at http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/Face/Files/TruckDriverStruckBySemi.pdf
Additional WA FACE Investigation Reports, Fatality Narratives, Hazard Alerts, Fatal Facts, and data summaries can be accessed through the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries at http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/FACE/default.asp
The Safety Issues and Investigation Reports which are the products of NIOSH Cooperative State partners are presented here in their original unedited form from the states. They are intended for educational purposes only. The findings and conclusions in each report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the NIOSH.
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