Three Points of Contact — The Safest Way to Enter or Exit Trucks

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), slip and fall injuries are the third largest cause of workplace accidents and account for 15–20% of all workers’ compensation costs. While elevated falls don’t occur as frequently as same-level falls, the resulting injuries and costs are usually greater.

The BLS also indicates that truckers are among just five occupations (others are laborers; nursing aides, orderlies and attendants; janitors and cleaners; and police officers and sheriff’s patrol officers) that collectively accounted for nearly 20% of all days-away-from-work cases in 2011. More than half of the cases impacting truckers were sprains and strains caused in part by slips and falls while getting into or out of trucks.

Using what’s called the three-point contact method when entering and exiting a truck can help to significantly reduce the chance of a serious injury from a slip or fall. This simply means three of four limbs remain in contact with the vehicle at all times (two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand).22001These three points of contact form a triangle of anchor points, which changes in form when mounting or dismounting a vehicle. Drivers have the most stability when the center of the triangle is closest to their center of gravity. Sideways movement should be avoided since it creates an imbalance of weight distribution. Below are some additional do’s and don’ts when exiting and entering trucks:

Do:

  • Enter and exit facing the cab.
  • Mount and dismount only when equipment is stopped.
  • Look for obstacles on the ground before exiting the vehicle.
  • Break three-point contact only when you reach the ground, cab or platform.
  • Take extra care in wet, snowy or icy weather.
  • Avoid wearing loose or torn clothing that can catch on equipment.
  • Wear shoes with appropriate support and traction.

Don’t:

  • Jump off a truck. Doing so exerts 12 times your body weight on your joints when you land.
  • Climb down with something in your free hand. Put it on the vehicle floor and reach up for it when you get down on the ground.
  • Use tires or wheel hubs as a stepping surface.
  • Use the door frame or door edge as a handhold.
  • Become an injury statistic.

Employers can help reduce the risk of injury by providing training for drivers on how to safely mount and dismount equipment. To further promote safety, all trucks should display warnings in the cab or on the door to remind workers to use the three-points-of-contact method.

United Heartland is here to help. Stay tuned for our upcoming launch of safety materials related to this subject and more with our WalkSafe campaign on Feb. 11. And be sure to check out our website for many more materials related to slip and fall safety today!