When picking up or dropping a trailer off, truck drivers must crank their landing gear. Often, cranking the landing gear can be difficult for several reasons including not enough lubrication, lack of space between trailers or assembly damage. Even if your landing gear is not damaged and has been well maintained, cranking it can cause injuries to the back, shoulders, wrist or face. It is important when picking up or dropping off a trailer you follow every critical precaution. Using the proper techniques and posture can help reduce the chance of injury.
Researchers from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries and North Carolina State University oversaw 12 male truck drivers during the cranking process, and shoulder muscle and scapular range of motion were observed. During this time, 16 muscles in the shoulders were affected. By doing this study, researchers found that when a truck driver raises a trailer, doing a sagittal cranking (standing parallel) seemed safer on the body and reduces the shoulder workload. This allows the full-body to crank the landing gear instead of using just the shoulder since this has a higher resistance.
When lowering trailer landing gear this requires less resistance, so if the truck driver faces the trailer and with the crank handle perpendicularly this can be safer on the body. Using this method uses shoulder rotation. By standing and facing the trailer and crank, researches state that the truck drivers noticed grinding or rubbing of their ligaments. This can cause more wear and tear on the body and can result in serious injury.
Below are some tips to use when picking up or dropping off a trailer to help reduce wear and tear on the body and serious injury:
- Properly inspect both the trailer and crank. If any noticeable issues or problems are seen, report this to the maintenance department as soon as possible. Also, document these issues on the Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR).
- To help reduce injury, brace yourself against the trailer with the opposite hand you are using to crank the trailer. Having a good body posture while loading and unloading a trailer reduces wear and tear on your shoulders, back, wrist, and neck.
- At all costs, try to avoid twisting your back when applying a force which can cause serious back injury.
- Use the correct gear. There are two different gears – high and low. You can select these gears by moving the crankshaft in and out.
- When coupling the trailer, it should be lower than the fifth-wheel. When the trailer is lower, it is lifted a little and reduces some of the pressure of the loaded trailer.
- To avoid face injury, keep your face safely away from the swing handle.
- DO NOT speed up the crank as it can cause injury to your shoulder. Have patience and move at a safe speed.
- Use all your fingers when gripping the crank. Or, have an electric crank installed.