Truckers Face High Risk of Job-Related Injuries and Fatalities
Police officers. Construction workers. Oil rig workers. All of these are jobs with a reputation for being very dangerous for workers. When compared to those sorts of jobs, driving a commercial truck might seem like a pretty safe career choice. You aren’t directly dealing with criminals, don’t spend lots of time working at high elevations, and given how much we rely on goods transported by commercial trucks, becoming a truck driver might seem like a great career option. But some recent statistics from the Department of Labor shed some light on some of the dangers that come along with working as a truck driver.
According to the Department of Labor, commercial truck driver is the occupation with the 6th highest rate of non-fatal, job-related injuries and illnesses that require taking time off of work. The only occupations with higher rates of non-fatal injuries were police officers/sheriffs, firefighters, highway maintenance workers, correctional officers, and nursing assistants. This means that commercial truck drivers are three times more likely than the average American worker to suffer from a job-related injury that needs time taken off from work to recover from.
Since commercial truck drivers spend so much time on the road, they’re naturally at risk for being injured or killed in a truck accident. The CDC reports that in 2012, over a third of all long-haul truck drivers had been involved in at least one serious crash in their career. But a truck driver’s job often involves more than just driving. Truck drivers also often end up missing work because of injuries caused by slips, trips, and falls, as well as overexertion. In 2014, commercial truck drivers actually had the third highest rate of musculoskeletal injuries that required time off from work for recovery. These sorts of injuries can be caused by moving heavy containers or helping load and unload trucks. The size of the truck alone can put drivers at risk of overexertion since it can be difficult to get in and out of a vehicle that large.
When truck drivers are injured on the job, recovery isn’t always a quick process, either. 42% of all truck drivers who are injured on the job were forced to take more than 31 days off of work to recover. About half of all truck drivers injured while working had to wait at least 20 days before being able to return to work.
In 2014, 761 truck drivers were killed on the job. Transportation accidents account for 78% of on-the-job fatalities for truck drivers, but in 2012, that number was 65%. The number of truck drivers killed in accidents has been trending upward for the past few years. In 2009, the number of truck drivers killed in truck accidents reached a 35-year low point, but that number has increased every year since then.
Working as a commercial truck driver can indeed be an excellent career choice. Statistics like these simply go to show how important safety in the workplace is. When proper safety measures are taken, truck drivers are able to safe and the goods we need are able to be transported without interruption. In this case, everybody wins when workers are kept safe!