Unload With Safety

We are always trying to keep our readers aware of the dangers that may present themselves during their day to day work routine.  Equipment operators, construction workers, and truck drivers alike run into hazards in their line of work, and need to be prepared for the unexpected.  I recently came across another “Safety Watch” that opened my eyes to a serious hazard that I had never been aware of.  We see trailers filled with some sort of load almost every day and don’t think much about it past that point.  Unloading those trailers can be extremely dangerous if their operators are not aware of the proper procedure for that particular job.

Trout River Live Bottom TrailerI read about a truck driver who was unloading wood chip material from his open-top trailer using a live bottom or moveable floor conveyor unit.  While he was unloading it got jammed and the driver climbed to the top of the trailer to clear what was obstructing the process.  When he stepped onto the load of wood chips it collapsed underneath him and he was completely surrounded by the material.  He was pronounced dead at the scene from cardiac arrest due to compression asphyxia.

This sad event led to an investigation that showed that the trailer had a cross stability bar at the top which would cause loads to jam if the trailer was overfilled.  They also found that the load came all the way up to the bar, which caused the driver to become involved in order to clear the jam.  Apparently it was routine for employees to climb into the trailer while it was still unloading and the conveyor still working.

A little bit of know-how can go a long way, so know your equipment and its procedure before you begin work, and always follow these safety tips:

  • Use moveable floor systems with heavier trailers that do not have cross stability bars, allowing the load to move more smoothly through the trailer.
  • If your trailer has both a conveyor floor and a cross stability bar, do not fill up to or above that bar to prevent a jam.
  • Trailers with moveable floor systems ask if sweeping traps can be installed, if not do not begin sweeping out the trailer until the trailer is completely unloaded and the conveyor is shut off.

Know your rights and put your own safety first.  Employers are required to provide safety measures such as supply someone to be present while venturing inside the trailer.  Also know that employers should have training programs on loading, unloading, and clearing jammed loads.  Annual training should be provided in order to keep your knowledge of these safety measures fresh, and up to date with hazards and new procedures.

Keep these safety tips in mind while you work, and follow our Safety Board to see all of our tips!