This May, the STA is focusing on safety during trailer hook-ups and uncoupling. People in the trucking industry can commonly get injured while hooking up a trailer. These injuries can range from hand, foot and finger injury to facial injuries, to injury to those in the vicinity of the trailer.

Steps to safely hooking up a trailer:

1.     Check the kingpin and plate.

Before you begin, take a close look at the kingpin and the kingpin plate. You are looking for damaged or missing parts and that the part has proper lubrication. If the 5th wheel is inoperable, or the trailer is not suitable for hookup, it is the responsibility of the driver to notify the employer and not perform any unsafe movements.

Helps to prevent: runaway trailer, facial impact or lacerations

2.     Check your area for hazards.

Before you even start moving make sure you scan the entire area and look out for hazards, including other people in the area. Now that it is time to back up the trailer, go slowly. Sound your horn to signal that you are moving backwards and continue to back up slowly.There are multiple blind spots when you are backing up – use all your mirrors and stay alert to your surroundings. Don’t forget to look up for any overhead obstacles or objects or any other unusual obstacles, including the slope and pitch of the ground you will be backing on to.

Determine reference points you will use to make sure you are on track. In many situations, a spotter is a good idea – two sets of eyes are better than one.

Helps to prevent: crush injury, collision

3.     Back under the trailer.

Ensure to adjust the height using landing gear to the trailer is the correct height. Chock wheels behind trailer tires and determine if trailer has spring brakes. Ensure jaws of 5th wheel are open. Check alignment of 5th wheel on truck to kingpin. Take necessary precaution to ensure cargo is secure and no one is inside trailer. Shifting cargo is a hazard at many points of movement, hooking up the trailer is one of them. The jolt from the hook up could move freights that can become a hazard.

Helps to prevent: falling cargo, crush injury

4. Always confirm that the hookup has happened correctly.

If it did not, the trailer can slide of the 5th wheel while pulling away which can most certainly lead to injury. The locking lever on the 5th wheel must be in the locked position, do the tug test as a double check. Lastly, inspect the coupling by using a flashlight to ensure the 5th wheel jaws are locked.

Helps to prevent: runaway trailer, collision, crush injury

5.     Raise the landing gear.

There is potential here for many injuries including face, hands and back. Make sure you maintain good posture when you are raising the landing gear – brace yourself against the trailer with your non-cranking hand. Avoid twisting your back while applying force to reduce chance of back injury. Keep your face away from the spinning handle and do not ‘speed spin’ the crank. Patience here will significantly reduce the chance of hurting your shoulder.

Helps to prevent: shoulder injury, back injury, hand injury 

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