An overhead fall arrest system from Sayfa Group is helping fleet owners and operators prevent accidental falls of workers from trucks. There were 24 deaths attributed to falls from trucks between 2003 and 2012 in Australia but the issue seldom gets the attention it deserves from the industry.

50% of fatalities occurred from falls at heights below three metres

This may come as a surprise to many people but loading, unloading or performing maintenance tasks on a truck can be a high risk activity, perhaps even as deadly as working atop tall buildings. The complacency and false sense of security among workers and employers come from a misconception that working at a lower height carries no danger. Sadly, the fatalities tell another story.

Why are workers' lives put at risk?

Given the increasing number of trucks on the road, it’s surprising why the issue of ‘falls from trucks’ is not considered important enough to implement a few simple preventative measures so that worker safety can be ensured. An incident in the UK saw a truck driver spend two years in a vegetative state unable to move, talk or swallow when he received appalling brain injuries after he fell less than three metres off a truck.The company involved incurred fines of AU$300,000 for serious safety breaches.

What can be done to prevent falls from trucks?

Some vehicles have been designed or modified to eliminate the need for drivers to work at height, while unloading and loading of some of their systems and fittings can be undertaken from ground level. Some trucks have also been fitted or manufactured with custom designed guardrails. But the worrisome fact remains that there are still countless trucks that continue to operate without any protection installed whatsoever, requiring workers to carry out tasks at height at great risk to their lives.

What types of protection can be used?

Harnesses, cables and overhead rail systems can all be used with varying degrees of user flexibility and confidence. Sayfa recommends an overhead fall arrest system such as their Raptor rigid rail system, which allows a full range of movement unlike an overhead cable, and can arrest a fall more quickly, reducing the risk of injury to the worker and increasing peace of mind for the employer.