New Year’s Resolution: A Safety Checklist

Happy New Year!

Here is 2013, a new year, more daylight ahead, and winter driving to deal with. As you prepare for another year of trucking, now is a good time to assess the state of your preparations.

Maintenance checks and safety checks: now is the time to take stock and bring your work up to date. This also includes looking at the state of your insurance needs and coverage.

Have you added trucks to a fleet? Brought on kinds of business? Hired a driver? You’ll want to make sure that your insurance coverage is also up to speed.

Are your documents up to date? Make sure you have vehicle registrations, your current insurance policy declarations page (“dec page”), driver’s license numbers and basic driving histories of all drivers, including speeding tickets and VIN numbers (vehicle identification numbers) of each vehicle, and verify that your lines of authority are active and in good standing.

This is a good time to review your coverage with your insurance agent. Some issues to discuss could include:

  • Liability Insurance – this is the mandatory insurance which pays for any damage you cause with your truck. Driving without this insurance is an offense and could result in heavy penalties. Are all drivers and vehicles accurate on your policy?
  • Motor Truck General Liability Insurance – this coverage pays for injuries or property damage you cause through business activities when outside of your truck.
  • Bobtail/Deadhead Insurance – also known as non-trucking liability, this insurance is voluntary when you lease your truck to another carrier. It provides coverage for your truck when you’re not under a load and not under dispatch (i.e. when you’re having it serviced).
  • Motor Truck Cargo – this insurance covers the load you’re carrying. It isn’t mandatory but some shipping companies insist on it.
  • Physical Damage Coverage – also not a legal requirement, this insurance covers your truck against perils like collision, fire, theft, vandalism and flood damage. Are all of your units insured for the correct value? It is very important to review stated amounts (limits) for each truck insured.

Are you a long-haul driver? You’ll want to check with your insurance company about the radius of operation restriction for Primary Liability coverage and how they calculate it. An insurance agency may request copies of your IFTA statements to verify how far you are travelling. Keep current copies of the last four quarters in the event the company requests them.

Whether you need insurance as an owner-operator, motor carrier or private carrier, we can advise you and quickly get the coverage and the paperwork that you need.

Dump Truck Safety: Important Tips

Last month in Maine, a routine job of dumping asphalt for a new driveway quickly turned tragic with one simple mistake. When the truck’s bed rose and came in contact with an overhead electrical wire, a worker who was touching the truck was electrocuted, leaving him dead and the truck, still charged, on fire.

On average, at least one person dies in the US every day from trucking accidents, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dump trucks account for a significant amount of trucking fatalities, with an average of one dump truck-related fatality occurring every week.

In 2010, 416 deaths were connected with trucking & transportation related accidents. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Work can get intense, but don’t let that keep you from observing important safety tips. Along with all the other reasons to stay safe, it will help reduce your insurance claims and costs.

Perform Your Daily Truck Check

Taking the time to make some basic checks will save you hassle and possibly danger. First, perform a 360-degree walk-around to look for damage. Then, perform these specific safety checks: tire inflation and lug nuts; windshield cleanliness (but DO NOT stand on tires to clean the glass); headlights, tail lights, backup lights, flood lights; functionality in the lifting and lowering of the dump bed; tail gate and restraint chains; backup alarm; brakes and brake air pressure; and seat belt.

At the Work Site

On the job, wear proper protective gear—hard hat, reflective vest, the right footwear—and make sure you have safety equipment such as an aid kit, fire extinguisher and traffic cones.

Speaking of traffic, don’t get careless when driving in it. Provide good back-up lights, a back-up alarm and amber warning lights. Never back up the dump without verifying the area first. The GOAL method (Get Out And Look) is tried and true.

Don’t back the truck faster than a walking speed, and driver and backer should always agree on the “Stop” signal. Never raise the bed on uneven ground, and clear workers from the area before dumping.

Block a raised dump bed with a prop rod or heavy block before working beneath it, but don’t misuse props. Contact the prop manufacturer for an alternate prop if a higher angle is needed to access the rear of the truck.

Tipping

Due to dump trucks being larger and longer these days, tipping accidents, injuries and even deaths have increased. Instability causes dump trucks to tip: for example, with the box in the raised position and the box’s center of gravity and load of the machine not balanced between the frame rails of the unit box.

Other causes of instability: the unit needs to be level when dumping, the upper portion of the raised box is overloaded, material does not flow evenly, tire pressure is uneven, or the truck has an inadequate rear suspension system on any one side of the vehicle.

Electrical Wires

Always check for overhead wires before raising the bed, and do not let it touch the wires. A truck can act as a conductor and someone touching the truck and the ground can become a path for electrical current.

Dump trucks are used at nearly every construction site. Bystanders and operators both can be at risk, but maintaining your truck, securing the area and watching your step are all ways to stay safe.