Washington L&I Documents High Injury Rate of Truck Drivers

The agency's recent report says one of every 13 drivers suffers a lost-time injury each year.

Truck drivers have some of the highest rates of workplace injuries in Washington state, according to a report out this month from the state's Department of Labor & Industries (L&I). It says that each year, one in every 13 truck drivers has a work-related injury serious enough that they have to miss work for a period of time. In addition, there were 52 fatalities among trucking industry employees between 2006 and 2012; most of them were vehicle related and all but one victim men.

The report, "Trucking Industry: Examining Injuries for Prevention," includes information to help employers target hazards their employees are most likely to encounter. L&I's Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention program, known as SHARP, developed the report, which covers the years 2006 to 2012 and breaks the data down into six different trucking sectors.

Sprains, strains, and overexertion accounted for the most trucking-related injuries, with costs exceeding $107 million and resulting in 576,000 lost-work days. About 70 percent of these injuries were to drivers. Many of the injuries occurred while connecting or disconnecting a trailer to the truck or opening stuck trailer doors. Falls were also a leading cause of costly claims involving lost time.

"Injury rates in trucking are far above the state average for all other industries combined," said Caroline Smith, an epidemiologist for SHARP and the lead researcher on the study. "In an industry that continues to be plagued by a shortage of qualified drivers, it's vital that we keep the ones we have safe and working."

Key points from the report include:
  • There were 1.5 million lost workdays for all injuries in Washington's trucking industry during the report's time period.
  • For the 33,000 workers employed in the trucking industry each year from 2006 through 2012, there were nearly 7,000 lost-work claims.
  • Despite increased regulations on hours of service and other monitoring, trucking continues to be one of the most hazardous industries in the country.

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