Safe working conditions

We’ve discussed safe working practices before, but an incident today in Ottawa Lake, MI, compelled me to go over it again.

If you deal primarily with deck trailers, always follow the federal or local laws regarding fall restraint and allowable working heights. Some jurisdictions have lower limits, but as a rule, your feet cannot be more than 3 meters (10 ft) above ground level without a CSA/UL-certified fall restraint system. This is not a recommendation; it is the law. If you were to fall from 3 meters and injure yourself, Workers Compensation might reject your claim, leaving only legal action on your part to cover your lost wages, and it’s highly likely your case would not be successful, as you didn’t follow the safety procedures. Always follow the safety regulations, and if you’re not sure what they are, check online. Any driver who has pulled a deck can relate horror stories of drivers who have been injured by not using fall restraint systems.

Some shippers don’t have a proper fall restraint system. If you’re loading at such a place, and they insist the load be trapped, and the top is over 3 meters from the ground, you are well within your legal rights to refuse to tarp the load. If they insist you climb up and tarp the load, then you are within your rights to refuse the load if there is a reasonable belief that it is unsafe.

If you are asked or required to perform unsafe work, such as trapping a 10 ft load or having to secure a load on a public roadway (it happened to me once), you should report it immediately to your carrier and the appropriate state or provincial workplace safety agency. Canadian labor laws protect you from any disciplinary actions if you report unsafe working conditions. In short, if you report company XYZ for unsafe working conditions, you cannot be disciplined in any way.

The incident today that compelled me to write this article involved a driver falling off a load of pipe while trapping, and he hit his head on the trailer next to him. He left the truck stop in an ambulance. Please work safely and take care of yourself. Your family wants you to come home safe. More information can be found at:

Don Taylor has been a professional driver since March 1985.  In 1994 he made the jump to driving tractor trailers, and has accumulated over 3.5 million miles, including over 4 years of driving turnpike doubles in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.  He is currently hauling flat decks across North America.