In large-scale waste management operations, articulated haul trucks serve a critical role in transporting debris, navigating rough terrain with ease. However, safety hazards make walking the line between getting tough work done and keeping a crew safe feel like a balancing act.

Tyler Smith

March 14, 2024

3 Min Read

Articulated haul trucks play a crucial role in managing and transporting waste and debris, especially in large-scale operations like landfill management, recycling facilities, demolition and waste processing plants. Their unique design and capabilities make them particularly suited for rough terrain and other challenging conditions often found in waste management environments like these.

Still, walking the line between getting tough work done and keeping a crew safe can sometimes feel like a balancing act. To help keep safety first, here are some safety measures to consider, including the risks of shortcuts like riding on the back step.

  • Avoid slip and fall risks. Many haul truck accidents are attributed to simple ‘slip and fall’ incidents. While several manufacturers provide anti-slip steps and brightly painted rails that assist operators to the cab, operators also need to make sure the steps aren’t covered in mud, ice or oil. Adopting a three-point stance (two feet and one hand or two hands and one foot) when entering and exiting the cab is a great way to ensure stability.

  • Use an onboard weighing app if you have one. Onboard weighing systems are often thought of as productivity features, but they’re powerful safety features too. These systems can alert operators if they’re overloading a truck, which can cause machine instability.

  • Use a jobsite mapping app if you have one. These apps — like Volvo’s Connected Map — use GPS to identify the position of all other haulers fitted with the technology. Plus, you can see the position of every other vehicle and visitor on your site in real time. On sites with restricted visibility, they help reduce potentially dangerous situations.

  • Use telematics data to spot potentially unsafe operation. Telematics use is on the rise and it’s important to reap all the benefits — including using it to increase jobsite safety. As an example, some telematics reports include how many high-speed occurrences your operation experiences, which may indicate erratic operation that could cause safety issues or indicate that operator training is needed. Some telematics systems can even record how fast a hauler is traveling and emit an alert to remind operators to maintain a safe working speed.

  • Pay attention to slopes. Because of their incredible maneuverability, haul trucks are often working on hills and slopes. Slopes can decrease visibility, which becomes crucial if a truck begins to move unexpectedly. Some manufacturers are addressing these types of situations. Volvo’s Hill Assist, for example, holds the hauler in place on steep slopes without the need to engage the parking brake. The feature automatically activates when arriving at a complete stop on a hill and is disengaged when the operator accelerates.

  • Use designated seating areas. Always use the truck's designated seating areas with safety restraints. Riding on the back step or any area not designed for passengers can lead to serious injury or death. And it isn’t just falls from the truck that are dangerous — riders on the back step are also unprotected and can be severely injured if a truck collides with another vehicle or a stationary object. They’re also exposed to the load the truck is carrying, which can be particularly dangerous if the haul truck is transporting hazardous materials.

  • Make time for daily inspections. Even though we may get tired of hearing it, daily vehicle maintenance isn’t just necessary for productivity and efficiency, it’s also a critical safety step. It’s important to regularly inspect and maintain a haul truck, focusing on safety features like brakes, mirrors and warning signals to ensure they’re in good working order.

Implementing and adhering to strict safety protocols like these can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and injuries associated with running articulated haul trucks in waste operations. It’s on all of us to ensure that our commitments to productivity never compromise the safety of our teams.

Interested in becoming a contributor to Waste360? Submit an article or commentary to Editorial Director Stefanie Valentic at [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Tyler Smith

Volvo Construction Equipment North America

Tyler Smith is the Product Manager, Articulated Haulers, at Volvo Construction Equipment North America.

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