If you think being a tow truck driver is easy, think again. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety, towing is considered one of the most dangerous industries in the world. Statistics state that once every six days a tow truck driver is killed while on duty.
The reason this occupation is so dangerous is because tow truck drivers spend the majority of their time on the side of busy roads. Unfortunately, many drivers don’t follow the Move Over Laws which state you must slow down and/or move over when you see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. Not only this but there’s also an increased chance of a collision to and from a job or an injury from an improperly loaded vehicle.
To keep tow truck drivers safe while on duty, OSHA has some requirements in place. In this article, we’ll discuss those requirements as well as some crucial safety tips. Let’s begin.
OSHA Requirements for Tow Truck Drivers
The first thing you should know is OSHA isn’t the only government agency you have to listen to. Under the DOT, you must wear a seatbelt, use your signals, and have your CDL. If you’re a tow truck driver operating on public highways you’re under the DOT’s jurisdiction. However, under two circumstances are you under the authority of OSHA, one, you’re operating in only one state, and two, while you’re loading and unloading broken down or totaled vehicles.
Secondly, you must report any accidents to OSHA within the allotted period. If there are any fatalities then you must notify OSHA within eight hours and if it’s non-fatal you have seven days to report it. You do this by filling out an OSHA 301 Incident Report.
Lastly, OSHA has certain requirements when it comes to tow truck drivers operating their equipment during the loading and unloading process.
- Never haul more than the recommended weight
- Inspect your equipment at the beginning and end of your shift
- Replace defective equipment as soon as you notice something wrong with it
- Have permanent markings on your truck regarding the safe working load recommended by your manufacturer
OSHA’s requirements are put in place to remove some of the hazards that exist in the towing industry. The overall goal is to create a safer working environment for tow truck drivers. So, to extend on the subject, here are some additional tow truck driver safety tips.
Have personal protective equipment
All tow truck drivers are required to wear orange, yellow, or green fluorescent safety vests while working on the side of the road. This is because high-visibility vests make it easier for passing cars to notice you, especially during the early morning and late at night.
It’s also recommended to wear heavy-duty gloves and close-toed shoes. A sturdy work boot is highly recommended since they’re slip-resistant and support your ankle.
With the right PPE, you can avoid slips, cuts, and other injuries during the loading/unloading process.
Take care of your truck and equipment
As they always say, maintenance is key! If you want to avoid major repair costs and accidents due to poor maintenance then you must take care of your tow truck. To do this you should thoroughly inspect your truck and equipment before every shift, and if you find any defects, you must get the issue resolved.
Be safe on the side of the road
While helping someone broken down on the side of the road, you must take the necessary precautions. For example, always go in and out through the passenger side door to avoid the oncoming traffic. It would also be beneficial to park your truck in a way that creates a barrier between you and the passing cars.
Once you arrive at the scene, set up reflective cones and turn on your lights so other drivers can see you. It’s crucial to perform the job as quickly and efficiently as possible because the less time you spend on the shoulder of the road, the less likely an unwanted incident will occur.
Train your drivers
Lastly, it’s important to train and educate your drivers on various safety procedures. By doing so, they’ll be able to avoid accidents or other unwanted incidents.