Safely loading a cement truck is unlike any other truck loading process in any industry.
While other loading and unloading processes usually only require one stop, cement truck loading involves three stops: opening the top hatch(es), driving under the dry cement loading spout and closing the top hatch(es). This three-step process presents additional opportunities for an incident to occur, so you need an approach to keep drivers and operators safe at every point.
What’s the secret to workplace safety in the cement truck loading process? Truck spotting.
Why Spotting Is More Important Than Safety Equipment
There are plenty of stories to prove the first and final point about cement truck loading safety: The truck must be spotted correctly every single time.
Even if your facility has all of the right safety equipment, your operators are still at risk of a fall or other incident if a cement truck is mis-spotted. When a cement truck isn’t spotted correctly, the gangway and safety cage won’t align with top hatches, and when drivers attempt to open or close a hatch, they’ll be tempted to lift away the safety cage in order to do so. As a result, the driver – and your bottom line – is exposed to a fatal risk.
What makes truck spotting difficult to enforce at your facility is that in the cement industry, the truck drivers aren’t usually your own workers. Because they are employees of their respective transportation companies, you need to take extra initiative in training them on correct truck spotting practices for your facility.
How Safety Equipment Helps
Safety equipment is no substitute for proper cement truck spotting, but it can help your drivers and operators in cases of slight variance.
When it comes to truck spotting, a gangway that tracks from side to side may help adjust a safety cage for a truck that is parked too far forward, or too far back. A tracking gangway doesn’t mean your operators don’t need to properly park, but it does keep them safe in case their truck isn’t spotted perfectly.
Since cement truck hatches open on a perpendicular axis with the access gangway, it’s also important that you have an offset safety cage with flip-up panels to allow the hatch to pass through the cage. An offset cage means an operator doesn’t have to lift away the entire safety cage (and create a fall hazard) just to open or close a given hatch.
Furthermore, an offset truck safety cage with flip-up panels helps to overcome the more dangerous scenario of closing a hatch after the safety cage is lowered. Typically, closing the hatch is riskier because most safety cages won’t allow the hatch door to close unless the safety cage is lifted away. Instead of requiring the driver to re-spot the truck, an offset safety cage allows an operator to close a top hatch without moving the truck or removing the safety cage.
A Truck Spotting Case Study
One cement plant in California experienced four falls from the top of a truck in the past year, and an MSHA inspector blamed the falls on cement truck mis-spotting. In order to keep operators safe without slowing down operations, the facility enacted a number of new safety solutions, including:
- New concrete barriers that limited cement truck spotting variance
- New truck access equipment with the ability to move the gangway and cage system along the length of the entire platform
- New signage to communicate the value of correct truck spotting
- New training programs for outside drivers and operators so they understand how to safely and correctly load their cement trucks
As a result of their efforts, the California cement plant experienced a dramatic decrease in accidents and falls, and their operations haven’t been slowed down from the new safety equipment or loading procedures.
The secret to a safer cement truck loading process all depends on proper truck spotting. If you supplement strong spotting practices with adaptable safety equipment, your cement truck loading process is not only safer but also more efficient than ever.
Have your employees been overlooking the critical safety practice of truck spotting? Click below to download a tip sheet from Carbis Solutions and discover how to harness this human element for safer truck loading and unloading.