The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert following the death of a tractor trailer coal truck driver whose truck tipped over earlier this year.
MSHA said the driver was driving a tractor trailer on February 3 and the coal in the truck bed was damp and frozen. As the driver raised the bed, attempting to dump the load of coal, the trailer rocked and eventually tipped over. The driver jumped from the truck, the agency said, and suffered fatal injuries.
In its safety alert, MSHA said that a raised truck bed easily can overturn due to its size and weight. It warned that uneven ground, unbalanced load, or underinflated worn tires increase the hazards associated with this task.
To avoid injuries and deaths, MSHA recommended specific best practices.
For drivers, it recommended:
- Keep tires properly inflated and ensure they are not worn.
- Use antifreeze in cold weather to prevent material from freezing and sticking in the truck bed.
- Ensure the load is evenly distributed.
- Never overload the upper portion of the truck bed.
- Keep your truck and trailer in a straight line when backing up and never move faster than walking speed.
- Stay in the cab with seatbelt on during the entire dumping process. Never attempt to exit or jump from an overturning truck.
- Dump only on level surfaces and never dump when surfaces are uneven, loose, or not properly compacted.
For operators, the safety agency recommended:
- Mount a thermometer at the dumpsite to inform truck drivers of freezing conditions.
- Establish and maintain a program of instruction on safety regulations and procedures that addresses dumping procedures to be followed. A slight slope can increase the likelihood of tipping if material sticks in the top of the box.
Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist companies with improving their safety and health programs.