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The occupational risks to truck drivers

On Behalf of | Jan 20, 2022 | Workplace injuries

Driving a truck involves a lot more than just the long hours travelling thousands of miles in all kinds of hazardous conditions. Truckers face daily risks both on and off the road, as they often must also do heavy lifting and loading that can create physical strain.

As an important essential service, trucking companies in New York and around the country must give professional drivers specialized training that allows them to operate these heavy and hard-to-maneuver vehicles. But they do not often prepare them for other risks that operators take when they are not behind the wheel.

Common injuries in the trucking industry

The National Institute for Occupational Safety (NIOSH) reports that motor vehicle accidents are the main cause of death to workers in the United States. The transportation and warehousing industries hold the highest percentage, or 38%, of all worker deaths.

In the transportation sector, tractor-trailer and heavy-truck operators sustain the most occupational injuries, and many of these injuries happen when the driver is not on the road. Activities such as lifting, dragging, or hauling heavy materials on or off the truck contribute to strains, sprains, and spine and neck issues.

The cumulative effect of driving a truck is also a source of occupational injury. The most common injuries to truckers are slips, trips, falls and overexertion from:

  • Getting in and out of the truck
  • Pushing and pulling heavy cargo
  • Lifting heavy items while loading or unloading the truck
  • Poor posture from sitting for long hours behind the wheel

Reducing risks of injury

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has called on both regulatory agencies and the private industry to improve working conditions for truck drivers and to reduce the workplace risks that cause accidents, identifying four main areas needing more oversight:

  • Reducing driver distraction
  • Assessing driver physical fitness as well as screening and treating obstructive sleep apnea
  • Reducing operator fatigue with stricter enforcement of hours-of-service and work breaks
  • Addressing alcohol and drug impairment


The NTSB also recommends increasing the installation of collision-prevention technologies such as automatic emergency breaking, lane-departure and forward-collision warning systems, and blind-spot detection.

For New York truck drivers, filing a workers’ compensation claim for a job-related injury can seem complicated and frustrating, especially if they experience an initial claim denial. It is essential to find out how the system works and get help on following the procedures and deadlines required so you can get the compensation need for your injuries.