OSHA to warn dump truck owners about makeshift props

OSHA will soon issue a bulletin to warn those who service dump trucks about the danger of improperly bracing truck beds.

OSHA’s Chicago regional office began work on the bulletin after an inspection revealed some manufacturer-provided dump body props don’t raise the dump bed high enough for mechanics to access the back of the truck, where damage often occurs to air or hydraulic hoses, electrical lines, control cables and hydraulic motors.

During the past 10 years, OSHA recorded 31 accidents, nearly all fatal, involving the unanticipated release or movement of an elevated truck bed. In a majority of the cases, body props were not used or were used improperly. To raise truck beds higher than the one-position manufacturer-provided props allow, workers often use makeshift bracing that isn’t designed to support the weight of the dump body, OSHA says. In a draft of the dump truck safety bulletin, the agency cited as an example an incident in which a worker used a 4-inch-by-6-inch-by-8-foot piece of wood to prop up a dump bed while he greased U-joints. The board dislodged and the bed fell on his back.

OSHA cautions employers to make sure their workers use strong, heavy, positive supports when raising a dump bed to an angle other than the one the manufacturer’s prop – which is attached to the truck frame or dump body – will allow.

In response to a request OSHA made in March, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers sent a draft of the safety bulletin, titled Hazards of Unintended Movement of Dump Truck Body Beds, to member companies that make off-road dump trucks and dump trailers. Russ Hutchison, director of technical and safety services for AEM, says many manufacturer representatives who responded to the request for comments were not aware of the practice of raising a truck bed higher than the prop position. “If a user has that situation he ought to seriously consider calling the manufacturer,” Hutchison says. Several respondents told OSHA dump truck owners should call the truck’s manufacturer as an initial method of dealing with the problem. Manufacturers might have information that could help employers safely handle the issue, Hutchison says.

The employer who brought OSHA’s attention to the problem after he was cited for not using a truck’s original body prop has since invented braces to secure the dump box while workers service rear axles and air cylinders that aren’t reachable using the props on his trucks. Testing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Structures and Materials Testing Laboratory revealed the braces would support loads of more than 47,000 pounds. “This represented a significant engineering challenge and the positive outcome should be shared with other employers,” OSHA says in the bulletin draft.

The employer, who owns a quarry and ready-mix cement company, is willing to share blueprints for the prototype braces, which will fit any dump truck, says Kim Morton, a safety and health compliance officer for OSHA’s Madison, Wisconsin, office. Morton says to her knowledge, similar braces are not commercially available. For information on how to obtain a copy of the blueprints, call the Madison OSHA office at (608) 441-5388.