Falls from heights, including falls from nonmoving trucks, are a known cause of serious workplace injuries [1,2,4,6,7,14,15]. Subsequent to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) of Ontario implementing an industry sector management approach for service delivery the principle author noted a number of serious injuries as a consequence of falls from trucks or truck trailers. A literature search revealed limited articles, specifically relating to injuries sustained in falls from trucks or truck trailers. It was therefore decided to further investigate the scope of the problem.
A search of the Province of Ontario, Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) database for the year 1997 was conducted to identify all claims, within the Transportation Sector, where a reported accident had been classified as a fall from a non-moving vehicle. The data extracted from identified claims constitutes the basis of this study. There were 1026 claims initially identified. Each identified claim was reviewed to determine if the study entry criteria; (1) a fall occurred and (2) the fall originated from a truck, its trailer or the cargo, were met. Of the identified claims 352 met the study inclusion criteria. A retrospective file review was conducted on each claim entered into the study and the study variables recorded on a predefined data sheet.
The most frequent sites of falls were the back of the truck or trailer, the truck step and the cargo being transported. More than one injury was sustained by 23.6% of the study population. The major injuries identified included; 214 strains/sprains, 117 contusions and 101 fractures. One year post accident 89.4% of the study population had returned to work, of these 84.9% were on full duties and the remaining 4.5% were on modified duties. The total costs associated with the 352 injured workers included in this study amounted to $5,313,901.27.
Falls from trucks often result in significant injuries with considerable periods of disability and related costs. As falls from three specific locations i.e. the back of trucks/trailer, the cargo and the truck step made up 83% of the total falls efforts at prevention might best be directed to further investigate causal factors involved in the falls from these high frequency areas. A prospective study, including a detailed interview, with workers suffering a fall from a truck would assist in understanding factors that contribute to falls from trucks or truck trailers.