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Top 3 Tank Truck Safety Hazards: Do You Know The Risks?

Top 3 Tank Truck Safety Hazards: Do You Know The Risks?

There’s no getting around it: Your throughput depends on the loading, unloading and cleaning of tank trucks.

Without proper safety solutions and equipment, these tasks are incredibly dangerous for your employees and drivers. Even the most seasoned workers could experience serious injuries or even death depending on the tasks they have to accomplish, the training they’ve been through and the protection they’re provided.

Do you know the risks your drivers and workers face when accessing the tops and insides of tank trucks? Learn the top three hazards they may encounter and how to protect them with the right mix of equipment and training.

Tank Truck Safety Hazard #1: Falling Off The Top Of The Tank

In most cases, accessing the tank for loading and unloading means your employee has to climb on top of the tank to open a hatch or compressed air valve.

Without the proper prevention or protection, simply standing on the top of the truck puts your workers at risk for serious injuries from a fall. In 2009, a worker standing on top of a tank to unload sodium hydroxide fell from the top of the truck and fractured his femur, leading to hospitalization.

It’s almost certain that this workplace injury resulted in a workers’ compensation claim, medical costs and downtime for the worker’s employer. It also attracted the attention of OSHA.

This fall and the resulting injury may have been prevented if the facility had an expertly built and installed safety cage or enclosure solution designed to provide safer and easier access to the compressed air valve. Even if the worker had lost his balance, the fall protection provided by the cage would have stopped him from falling.

Tank Truck Safety Hazard #2: Falling While Climbing A Side Ladder

In 2011, a tank truck driver was making a routine delivery of cleaning agents to a retail store. After accessing the top of the tank to ensure the security of the seals, he began climbing back down the side ladder. Seconds later, he fell from the ladder, hit his head and eventually died from the injury.

While OSHA was never able to establish whether the driver slipped on the ladder or simply lost his balance, it’s clear that, even with the protection of the ladder, climbing on or off of a tank truck can be hazardous for drivers. This accident may have been prevented if the driver had undergone more rigorous safety training and the retail facility had invested in a fall prevention solution such as a Portable Tank Truck Access System.

Tank Truck Safety Hazard #3: Asphyxiation While Cleaning Tanks

If you’re transporting materials, there’s a good chance those chemicals have some level of toxicity. This makes the cleaning of your tanks a dangerous task. When it comes time to clean your tank trucks, make sure your workers have been rigorously trained and are aware of the chemicals they’re working with.

You should also have an emergency alert system that warns workers of imminent threats, and consider investing in a system that offers confined-space emergency entry retrieval for rescue situations. Make sure you work with a safety solutions partner able to provide confined-space entry and retrieval equipment that complies with OSHA 1910.146.

Other Tank Truck Safety Hazards To Watch Out For

When it comes to loading, unloading and cleaning tank trucks, the hazards outlined above are by no means the only risks your workers face. Other potential dangers include:

  • Tripping on loading hoses or other equipment on top of the tank
  • Having to leave the safety of a cage when it’s not properly configured to the tank truck
  • Drowning after falling into the contents of the tank
  • Explosions within the contents of the tank

Reduce Risk By Remaining Vigilant And Working With Experts

Worker injuries and death aren’t just tragic – they also devastate worker morale and your bottom line.

Mitigate your facility’s risk of serious injuries from tank truck safety hazards by ensuring workers are properly educated about these potential hazards. Work with a safety solutions company that helps you identify all potential hazards and provides you with equipment designed for your particular needs.

Ready to learn more about comprehensive truck safety solutions? Download this industry guide from Carbis Australia to discover strategies for a safer, more efficient workplace.

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How Effective Is Your Tank Truck Safety Solution?

A recent article in Bulk Transporter focused on the risks drivers face when working on top of tank trucks, highlighting the need for fall protection and prevention.

The article, which reported on the September meeting of the Cargo Tank Risk Management Committee (CTRMC), included insights on tank truck safety from the perspective of drivers themselves:


“Drivers would like to not have to go on top of tanks, but there are many reasons they have to for product quality and securement reasons,” according to the article. “Additional training on safe access to tank tops and better ladders is needed, especially when the need to carry equipment makes ‘three-point climbing’ difficult.”

While OSHA and ANSI recommend maintaining three points of contact (such as two hands and a foot) while climbing up the side of a truck or ladder, that’s clearly not enough to prevent falls and accidents on your tank truck loading site.

Where Does Your Tank Truck Safety Solution Fit In The Fall Protection Hierarchy?

When creating your tank truck safety solution, it’s good to start with the Fall Protection Hierarchy, an industry standard designed to protect workers from safety hazards. The hierarchy (sometimes referred to as Z359) starts with the preferred scenario and works down to the least effective solution.

1. Elimination Or Substitution
Remove the hazard or replace it with a safer option. In the context of tank truck safety, the first preference would be to eliminate the need for people to walk on the tank – especially when loading hazardous chemicals.

Some facilities tackle this problem by installing elevating truck platforms that provide safer walking surfaces, so drivers and operators don’t need to walk on top of the truck at all. The best way to eliminate walking on top of a truck depends on your specific situation and needs.

2. Passive Fall Prevention
If your drivers and operators still need to access the top of a tank truck, the next step is to find a safer way to do it. The preferred solution in this case is to use passive fall prevention, such as handrails and extended truck safety cages.

3. Fall Restraint
This type of fall prevention uses a harness or tether that restrains the worker from reaching the fall hazard while doing his or her job.

4. Fall Arrest
This type of solution aims to intervene when a person is already falling, in order to bring them to a safer stop. This isn’t the preferred solution, since the tank truck driver or operator would still fall, but it may be the only alternative in some situations.

5. Administrative Controls
Finally, you could use administrative controls to manage hazardous situations by reducing the frequency, duration and severity of a worker’s exposure. Safety policies, schedules, supervision and training are examples of these control measures.

Clearly, there’s a huge difference between eliminating the risk altogether and relying on safety policies and training alone. To keep workers safe when they work with tank trucks, you need a comprehensive truck safety solution designed to meet your work site’s specific needs, using a combination of safety procedures, equipment and services.

Are Portable Platforms Safe For Your Work Site Demands?

Are Portable Platforms Safe For Your Work Site Demands?

Providing a safe work site is critical for protecting your workforce against accidents that may cause serious injuries. In particular, fall prevention measures such as safe access platforms are viable safety solutions that reduce the risk of preventable accidents.

However, you may not always have the time or space available to install a traditional access platform. If you need a more flexible safety solution, portable platforms are often able to meet the specifications of your work site.

Portable work platforms are suitable for truck and rail access when installing permanent platforms is simply not feasible. Learn more about how portable platforms help you meet your work site’s safe access needs.

Portable Truck loading platform

Carbis Australia loading and unloading platform

Portable Truck loading platform

How Portable Platforms Are Used

Some portable platforms are designed specifically for tank truck access.These lightweight and low-cost safety solutions are suitable for fall prevention during loading and unloading.

General truck and rail-access rolling platforms usually have wheels that make transporting your system simple and efficient. Many systems also accommodate motors, pumps and hoses, facilitating your workers on the job.

While rolling work platforms are convenient for companies that do not have enough space for a permanent solution, it is important to remember these systems are not designed for high usage.

For example, a company that only has to vent the hatch on a truck would benefit from using a portable system. Companies with heavy or high-volume loading schedules, as well as those that require handling loading arms or hoses while on top of the truck, should install a platform.

Fall Prevention And Minimising Risk

Miss-spotting is a risk when using portable platforms just as it’s a risk when using traditional access platforms. While traditional access platforms require you to move the vehicle in order to align with the platform, portable platforms must be moved to align with the vehicle. If you miss-spot the equipment, the risk of falling greatly increases.

It’s also important to keep platforms tidy and remove items from the stairs to avoid trips and falls. Large, unwieldy objects should not be carried up and down the stairs as this increases the possibility of the platform tipping over.

You may be able to customize your portable platform depending on the model and your specific needs. When choosing a safe access system, keep in mind that these portable systems are most often used for light loading and unloading, as temporary solutions or as back-up equipment in the event of an emergency.

If you have questions about safety procedures for portable platforms, the correct operational processes are detailed in the owner’s manual. It is also beneficial to speak with an experienced professional who is knowledgeable on the use of safety equipment.

Spacepac Industries Pty. Ltd

Spacepac Industries Pty Ltd

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