The author of this letter to the editor, Pete Zimmer, is a Las Vegas-based owner-operator currently leased to Mercer and running long-haul. Zimmer began his career in trucking in 1980.
It’s no secret that drivers are forced to tarp loads that are in unsafe conditions. We are climbing on top of 13’6″ loads at times. We are told to go to deserted lots off the shipper’s property to tarp the load — or go onto public streets to tarp — as shippers try to release themselves of liability.
We are exposed to and deal with rain, snow, ice, heat and wind in order to tarp a load.
The “Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries” reports 25 deaths a year occur as a result of various falls, slips and trips in the trucking industry. Some shippers do furnish equipment and assistance for tarping, which is appreciated. However, they are in a small minority.
OSHA has many regulations that are not followed or enforced, and only after an accident does OSHA investigate and find faults.
Some of the OSHA regulations include that employers are to provide a “safe workplace.” Fall protection is required for different industries at 4-, 5-, 6- and 8-foot heights. Other requirements are needed at other heights. Employers are to provide equipment for workers who are exposed to working at different heights.
All shippers wanting loads tarped should furnish overhead beams and trolleys for secure points to use fall protection equipment — platforms, rolling ladders, horizontal lifelines, fall restraint systems, harnesses, etc. — in order to provide for driver safety and comply with OSHA standards.
Another option could be that materials being shipped are waterproofed with plastic and the driver is furnished with tie-down points to properly secure the load.
Then the driver could do what he is paid for: Drive.
Be careful. Don’t become a statistic this year.