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Winter – The Most Dangerous Time of the Year

Ask anyone who works in trucking – the holiday season is not the most wonderful time of the year. Winter weather and frantic delivery schedules mean your drivers will be more stressed, distracted and prone to injuries. At the same time, higher volumes and bigger packages mean they’ll probably be using their lift gates way more often.

Top 5 Costs of Lift Gate Incidents
  1. Damaged Cargo
  2. Operational Costs
  3. Extra Fuel
  4. Customer Accommodation
  5. Severe Injuries

So, what’s your plan for lift gate safety? Maybe you think your drivers already know how to operate lift gates properly. Hopefully you’re right, but better to make a small investment in training now than pay 10, 20 or 100 times more after an incident. Just how expensive are lift gate incidents? Let us count the ways...


5 Biggest Costs of Lift Gate Incidents 

When most people think about the cost of lift gate incidents, they think of the obvious stuff – damaged cargo and injuries. Those things can be very expensive, but unfortunately, the costs don’t stop there. There are lots of non-obvious ways a lift gate incident can cost you money, too.

    1. Damaged Cargo. The direct non-injury costs from a lift gate incident depend on the cargo. Dropping a rack of bread won’t cost much. Dropping a premium armoire or getting mud all over a custom sofa (not implausible this time of year) could cost thousands of dollars.
    2. Operational Costs. The direct costs of damaged cargo often pale in comparison to the indirect costs of a lift gate incident, which can exceed the direct costs by five-fold or more. Consider the financial and logistical costs of rerouting drivers, replacing damaged product, scheduling special deliveries, rush orders and overtime. Suddenly that expensive armoire seems like the least of your worries.
    3. Extra Fuel. Fuel is one of a fleet’s biggest expenses, and if a lift gate incident occurs while a driver is en route, you’ll burn through a lot of it. There’s the fuel the driver already used, fuel to send a maintenance or two truck, fuel to send out a new driver, fuel to make an extra delivery stop... It adds up quickly. 
    4. Customer Accommodation. In addition to the cost of replacing damaged cargo, you’ve got an unhappy customer to deal with. Think of the time and money you’ll devote to phone calls, rescheduling concerns, replacements and refunds. Even if you bend over backwards to make things right, a lift gate incident can permanently damage a customer’s trust, as well as your fleet’s reputation.
    5. Severe Injuries. Lift gate injuries can be exceptionally expensive, and they’re more likely to happen in poor winter weather. A single slip on an icy patch could put an employee out on workers’ comp for weeks or even months. When fingers get caught in a lift gate, the injury can be devastating and permanent. A person can easily lose their fingers or severely damage them. This type of injury can end a career and result in astronomical medical bills.

Driver falling off lift gate in snow

ClearDrive’s 10-minute course on lift gate safety trains drivers to safely operate various types of lift gates, handle malfunctions, and reduce hazards and injuries.


Do These 4 Things to Improve Lift Gate Safety

Still think your fleet doesn’t need to worry about lift gate incidents? We sure hope not! When it comes to reducing these incidents, communication is key. These four things can make a big difference, and they won’t cost you a dime.

  1. Train drivers and helpers to give all-clear signals. Communication between a driver and helper will reduce injuries, too. Drivers and helpers should give a verbal “all clear” to each other before operating the lift gate.
  2. Hold safety meetings. Lift gate operation is a great exercise to demonstrate during safety meetings — ask drivers to share unique problems they’ve run into and how they’ve solved them. It’s also a good idea to evaluate lift gate operations during road tests and ride evaluations.
  3. Use signage and visual cues. You can further reduce injury by adding visual cues to the lift gate itself. Add a strip of bright, slip-proof paint to the edge of the deck and all around the edge of the lift gate. Add hand-trauma decals and painted pinch points near moving parts, as well as near the lift gate controls.
  4. Footwear and maintenance reduce slips: Lift gate decks get chipped and slick over time. Maintenance should prioritize those fixes. And you can help them by embracing rules around good footwear — many fleets find the cost of two pairs of boots per year more than offsets the cost of injuries.
Safety Tip: Train drivers and driver helpers to give a simple “all clear” to each other before they operate the lift gate.


Don’t Wait for an Incident – Train Drivers Now!

Winter, as they say, is coming, and your drivers are about to enter a busy, hazardous season. ClearDrive training for commercial fleets can help them – and you – have a safer, less stressful, and incident-free season.

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