Used dump truck accidents happen anytime and anyplace. There is no exact time or any perfect place where they occur – they just happen. Accidents related to the operation of used dump trucks have the possibility of causing serious damage and putting the lives of other motorists, or workers assisting the driver, in danger. Reckless drivers who fail to abide by applicable rules and regulations put the lives of many people at risk due to their recklessness. Business owners and truck drivers are obligated to take all necessary steps to prevent accidents.
When working with a used dump truck, drivers must be able to identify all hazards associated with this equipment, and take the necessary safety precautions for a smooth and accident-free operation.
- Hazards – The rising number of dump truck accidents makes it imperative that companies provide their employees with all information regarding the proper use of these vehicles. Manufacturers suggest that drivers undergo training to identify the hazards and the safe handling of this equipment. The most common danger associated with a used dump truck is the possibility of tipping over when the truck bed is raised or elevated. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that over the past ten years, there have been 36 accidents due to tip-overs while the truck bed is in a raised position. Almost all of these accidents resulted in the death of the involved workers. Another hazard that drivers should be aware of is “run-over” and power line hazards, especially when the box is elevated. Therefore, safety measures are applicable to all types of used dump trucks.
- Stability – The most common cause of tip-over is the instability of the truck. When the truck is unloaded on an uneven surface, there is a greater probability that it will overturn. These tip-over accidents are believed to be caused because the dump box is elevated outside the frame of the center of gravity. Stability is also affected by other factors such as: slightly sloped surfaces; heavy materials; material that sticks to the upper portion of the bed while unloading; and mechanical failure.
- Controlling Hazards – After identifying the hazards and their contributing factors, drivers must know how to control the risks associated with these hazards. To prevent stability problems, drivers should dump materials on a level, stable surface. When materials being dumped are not properly flowing, the dump box should be lowered immediately to reduce the sideways pull of gravity. Any mechanical damages should be repaired as soon as they are discovered.
- Regular Maintenance Program – Simple maintenance programs can prevent tip-over accidents. Drivers should ensure that the tire pressure is equal on both sides of the used dump truck; hydraulic cylinders and pins should be lubricated; suspension systems should be checked to ensure they provide equal suspension; and repairs should be made to the truck bed to ensure that materials flow continuously from the upper portion of the box.
- Loading – Drivers should be aware of what is a safe and allowable load limit when hauling material. Dry and wet materials have varying degrees of weight. Loading material on the truck bed should meet the acceptable gross weight and the load should be evenly placed in the box.
- Unloading – Drivers should undergo training to be able to identify all hazards associated with the dumping of material. Before raising the truck bed, operators should ensure that the vehicle is on a level surface and the tailgate is unlocked. If a spotter is not available, the driver should get out of the truck to check for any hazards at the rear of the truck. The driver should not attempt to unload the material if vehicles are parked side-by-side.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded 381 accidents involving dump trucks and heavy duty equipment last year. These incidents are due to the number of hazards associated with used dump truck usage. Accidents can be avoided if drivers have the proper training in terms of hazard identification and prevention. Drivers of used dump trucks should always conduct pre-inspections, know proper unloading procedures, and have the proper safety thoughts before operating this equipment!