Yard trucks are semi-tractors that transport trailers a short distance throughout a yard or area. There are several names associated with them like yard spotters, yard jockeys, switcher trucks, terminal tractors, and yard mules.
They revolutionized cargo handling. They are designed with safety measures to remove any unnecessary hazards. This reduces driver injuries, worker’s compensation claims, and retains drivers. They are also relatively easy to operate.
Even though yard trucks improve safety, there are still several injuries and deaths each year. A large percentage of these injuries and deaths are from backing up. There is a large risk of being run over whenever a yard truck is backing up.
In recent years an employee was leaving his yard truck when he was run over by another yard truck trailer that was backing up. This employee was rushed to the hospital with several fractures, including a fractured pelvis. However, the following day this employee died.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in recent years there are over 70 workers have died from backover incidents. OSHA has several standards to help prevent backover incidents. They have great resources to read through and use.
There are several factors for backover incidents with yard trucks. These trucks do not offer very good rear visibility when towing a trailer. For this reason, backing up yard trucks is very dangerous.
Follow these steps to avoid any backover incidents:
- Avoid going into reverse suddenly.
- Go out and walk around the yard truck to check surroundings
- Check your mirrors
- Look behind you
- Check clearance on each side
- Sound horn before proceeding
- Back up slowly
Remember that the process of backing up with a trailer is counter-intuitive to backing up a car. When you are backing a trailer, you need to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction. Once the trailer is turning, you must turn the other way and follow the trailer.
The best thing you can do is do your best to back in a straight line. If you drift off your intended path, pull up and reposition the yard truck. You can also use a spotter to help you position the trailer correctly.
For more information and training on yard trucks, check out the Hard Hat Training Series. Taking their training will help prepare you and ensure better safety in your workplace.
Good luck and stay safe!