Many equipment operators and truck drivers get hurt by entering, exiting, mounting and dismounting equipment and trailers—sometimes resulting in severe losses. When it comes to equipment-related falls, small things can make a big different. Do workers always use hand holds and steps? Do they ever jump from the equipment or tracks? Are trailer decks always clean and debris free? 

Impact of Gravity on the Body
An impact force or shock is created when descending from the cab, equipment or trailer. The human body is designed to absorb some force, but workers may create an injury-prone habit depending on their weight and work practices. With an aging body or extra weight, the likelihood of an injury increases significantly with impact force. Impact force is determined by weight: the heavier a person is, the greater the impact force will be. Impact force also is affected by the vertical distance traveled during the activity and the use of the body during that activity.
  • A 250 pound person jumping down 16 inches (the typical height of a trailer bed) creates 395 pounds of force.
  • A 250 pound person jumping down 33 inches (the typical height of skid steer tracks) creates 1,170 pounds of force.
  • A 250 pound person jumping down 48 inches (the typical floor height of a back hoe cab) creates 1,860 pounds of force.
The Three Points of Contact Rule
To safely mount, dismount, enter or exit equipment, three of four points of contact must be maintained with the vehicle at all times: two hands and one foot, or both feet and one hand. This means both feet should be planted firmly on the steps with one hand grabbing a solid object, such as the steering wheel or the grab handle. The other option is to have both hands on the grab handles or steering wheel and one foot on the step. These techniques provide maximum stability and support while reducing the likelihood of slipping and falling.

Other Equipment and Truck Safety Tips

  • Only climb on or get off when the equipment or vehicle is stationery.
  • Always mount or climb down while facing the truck or the equipment; it is safer to exit the cab of the truck facing inward rather than facing outward. Exiting forward increases the risk of slipping and causing back or head injuries.
  • Make sure points of contact are clear of debris, mud, grease, etc.
  • Only use points of contact that were intended to be used to climb on or dismount. Do not use tires or wheel hubs as a step surface and do not use the door frame or edge as a handhold.
  • Do not mount or dismount while holding something in your hands.
  • Never jump. 

Gary Clevenger is national risk control director-construction for CNA. For more information, email gary.clevenger@cna.com or visit www.cna.com/riskcontrol. CNA will be providing a hands-on demonstration of how to properly mount and dismount trucks and equipment May 1 at Associated Builders and Contractors’ Workforce Development Conference in Birmingham, Ala.