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In my daily routine of being a driver myself and also watching out for my other drivers while wearing my fleet owner hat, there are a lot of things I see to watch out for when outside of the truck. Whether it is a pothole to twist an ankle or a patch of ice to slip on, there are enough daily hazards to make it an inevitable fact that you are going to encounter something dangerous. Of course, the warehouses and loading yards we often encounter add even more dangerous scenarios to the equation. I wonder if these factors are taken into consideration each year when people rank truck driver as one of the deadliest jobs there is for anyone to have.
When in a warehouse, you should always be under the assumption that forklift drivers do not see you. With other things to manage like label scanning, looking out for other lift trucks and making sure the proper PO’s are loaded, sometimes their duty of watching out for foot traffic can fall by the wayside. I take certain precautions to maximize my “standing out” against the other distractions that warehouse personnel have to deal with, including wearing my yellow safety vest in the warehouses and yards, while trying to maintain eye contact with any lift operator around to make sure they register I am noticed as a pedestrian hazard.
Safety at a shipper or receiver should not be limited to just increasing visibility either. Safety glasses, or even regular glasses, can be useful in many warehouses where particles are floating around or other eye damage hazards may exist. If there are painted walkways for pedestrians, be sure to use them to navigate your way around. If not, try and stay out of the middle of isles and listen for moving equipment. Read safety and warning signs posted around as well, since they are there to help keep you safe. Remember that lifts are not the only objects that can hit you that are wheels in a warehouse or out in a loading yard! Even getting hit by a golf cart or three-wheeled bicycle while walking around can injure you badly.
When loading in a production area with loud equipment you may want to consider the use of earplugs. I even wear them while standing by the door to monitor loading/unloading a lot of times because most ramps slam down very noisily as forklifts drive over them, which can damage your hearing if loud enough. Should the need arise for any driver-assisted loading or unloading, be sure to carry a back brace for just such an occasion, which I wear in addition to a knee brace.
Safety in and around the loading docks or loading yards begins and ends with you! No matter how fast or slow you are loaded, the main priority should to be always remain being on the lookout and remaining safe while out of the cab. Safety outside the truck is just as important as when you are behind the wheel! After all, we all want to make it home in one piece and healthy after every trip out on the road!