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The observation deck of the Empire State Building is more than a thousand feet above street level. I think if there was ever a time that I could learn to fly, it would be if I fell from it. I don’t know if I could figure it out, but I do know that I would be flapping my arms the whole way down! Maybe in five or six hundred feet it might just work.
I also know that none of us can figure out how to fly in thirteen feet, six inches (top of a load), or five feet (trailer deck height), or four feet (rear tractor deck) or even two or three feet (tractor steps). Unfortunately, we get a lot of drivers hurt each year trying to do just that. The results of these low-flying escapades include concussions, broken arms, shoulders, legs, feet and ribs, lacerations and death. The health as well as the financial consequences to a driver can be disastrous.
How do they happen? Most of the time the root cause can be traced to one of three things: Inattention, being in a hurry, and/or improper equipment. We’ve had drivers on top of loads forget how close they were to the edge and just step off. Some drivers do not notice loose or slippery items on loads until it is too late. Folks in too big of a hurry do silly things like jumping out of the cab, or off of the trailer deck or tractor rear deck. People in a hurry forget the basic rule of three point contact when climbing or descending from loads or vehicles. Improper equipment accidents are often the result of wearing flip-flops instead of appropriate footwear when securing and tarping loads. Improper equipment accidents are also caused by a driver’s failure to use a ladder on tall loads, or the failure to use harnesses or platforms at customer facilities.
Protecting yourself from these kinds of injuries is not rocket science. It is common sense. It is attention to detail. It is taking your time and doing things right. You make your own luck in this business. Or not. Remember, you cannot fly. Be safe.
by Len Dunman