One in four truck drivers admit to having fallen off a truck and despite the relatively low heights, the falls often break bones and can even cause severe head injuries.
Solving the problem saw No Bolt Operations being recognised at the 2007 WorkSafe Victoria Awards.
Freight companies across the country had reported many near misses and a worrying history of injuries associated with the loading of trucks. The National OHS Manager of a big freight centre in Australia said falls were a constant problem.
“On average, a driver fell off a truck at every two months,” he said. “Some were lucky and just dusted themselves off but quite a few broke arms and one his hip. Another fell head first, broke his shoulder blade and had stitches in his head and was lucky not to suffer more serious injuries.”
Among the safeguards on offer were helmets with chin straps to prevent fatalities, overhead harnesses, tarp spreaders and cargo nets.
“There were a host of alternatives but the majority of them were difficult to deal with, too costly or impractical in some circumstances and if safety equipment is too hard to use, it’s not going to work,” said the OHS Manager.
“We realised the answer would be a fixed elevating loading dock with a handrail that drivers could connect themselves to. I’d come across No Bolt’s innovative platforms and thought they might be willing to build something new with us. The rest is history.”
The platform, which was eventually named the Safe Loading Access Platform (SLAP), had to be quick and easy to use, light enough for one or two people to move and strong enough to cope with the rigours of busy transport yards.
The series of platforms ranging from 2 to 24 metres long were built from structural high-grade aluminium and fitted with lockable castors. The drivers wear a harness that is connected via a lanyard and static line to the platform’s guardrail. The lanyard allows drivers across two-thirds of the tray’s width – short enough to prevent falls over the unguarded edge but long enough for drivers to secure loads efficiently.
“The SLAP doesn’t interfere with the drivers’ work too much,” the Manager said. “Actually, some drivers have commented they tend to forget they’ve got it on.”
“What’s even more important is that not one driver who’s used the SLAP over the last 12 months has fallen. That’s a huge improvement over one every two months."