The Chicago Occupational Accident Attorneys as Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers Represent FedEx Workers
FedEx is a major shipping logistics company providing worldwide service by transporting parcels, packages, envelopes and other goods to destinations around the globe. The service crews involved local drivers, cross-country truckers, dockworkers, sorters, airline pilots and others. The fast-paced environment of ensuring that packages arrive on time creates the ideal environment for catastrophe when incidents arise.
Most FedEx Workers and dockworkers performed freight handling duties every day using a variety of equipment including hand trucks, mechanized pallet jacks, and motorized forklifts. These workers secure the freight inside the FedEx trailers using rope, straps, pallets and other necessary supplies and tools. In many incidences, work is intense, and the pay is low compared to other manual positions in varying occupations.
FedEx Worker Hazards
For individuals working around a dock environment, their occupation can be extremely hazardous, especially when working with intense noise, and exposure to fumes, exhaust, and adverse weather conditions. During certain seasonal times of the year, the workload can become unmanageable and produce extended hours well past the forty-hour workweek. The deadline-oriented fast-paced environment can lead to a quick turnaround of employees.
According to data and information maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012, the rate of on the job fatalities and non-lethal injuries grow significantly when drivers are transporting packages across the country and throughout the local community. Nationwide, involving all semi-trailers traveling America’s roadways, claimed the lives of 756 truckers and injured more than 65,000 truck drivers in the private sector.
Serious hazards involved in working as a delivery driver, cargo loaders, and dock worker include:
- Following incidences from working at tall heights and on ladders or the back of the trailer
- Slips and trips occurring from slippery surfaces
- Heavy load cargo overturns from shifting merchandise while the vehicle was moving.
- Locking device uncoupling accidents where the tractor and the trailer separate unexpectedly
- Performing field repair work including tire changing, secure strapping, or dealing with the broken-down truck.
- Unsuspectingly transporting dangerous chemicals that could cause chemical burns, explosions or other serious hazards.
- Explosions caused by overly inflated truck tires
FedEx Workers’ Wages
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for the year 2016, involving employment statistics of the previous year, there were 26,730 delivery service drivers in the Chicago, Naperville and Arlington Heights metropolitan area. These statistics reveal that FedEx another delivery service drivers in northeastern Illinois earned $17.59 per hour, or $36,580 annually, on average. These earning wages are slightly higher than the national averages. See Chart
FedEx Workers Fatalities and Injuries
The rate of fatalities occurring at FedEx and other delivery service companies helps to point to the numerous hazards, and dangerous situations encountered every day by workers at the loading dock moving material on-and-off trucks, shipping containers, and airplanes. Serious cases in recent years involving FedEx employees and other delivery company workers include:
- Case 1: Memphis, Tennessee – A female FedEx worker died of a job-related injury at the FedEx Memphis hub in November 2017 just after midnight while she was on duty loading and unloading a cargo bay on a FedEx Boeing 777. Other employees found the worker’s body under a motorized conveyor belt. The fatality is the third in only four years at this job site.
- Case 2: Lubbock, Texas – In October 2017, a male FedEx Employee died while working at the Lubbock Preston Smith Airport. Two weeks later, the decedent’s two daughters filed a wrongful death lawsuit against FedEx claiming improper safety procedures and a hazardous work environment that led to their father’s death. Even though local law enforcement investigated the incident, it was not classified a homicide. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) investigators have also placed the unexpected death on their radar. Eyewitnesses to the event stated that the victim fell under a tandem tractor-trailer rig wheel while the vehicle was leaving the facility.
- Case 3: Tonawanda, New York – A FedEx employee working on a loading dock was crushed to death. The incident occurred in August 2016 while a FedEx loading dock employee was working around heavy cargo pallets. The fifty-seven-year-old victim was crushed to death after a 1300-pound pallet fell with more than one-half ton of packages. The employee was working in the truck trailer when the incident occurred. Even though other employees rushed to aid the injured employee, they could not move the pallet without the assistance of a forklift. Paramedics arriving on the scene were unsuccessful in saving the victim’s life. OSHA began an investigation.
- Case 4: April 2017 – A Worker Jumping from One Truck to Another Fractured a Hip. In the early afternoon of March 3, 2017, worker “was assisting his employer to transfer furniture from one truck to another. As the employer was repositioning the truck intended to receive the furniture, the employee jumped from the back of the initial truck to the one under operation by the employer. The employee was crushed between the two trucks, sustaining a fractured hip.” The injured worker “was hospitalized and received treatment.”
- Case 5: October 2016 – In the early evening hours of October 15, 2016, worker driving a vehicle a company vehicle. “Another coworker (driver) found the employee slumped over the steering and will while parked at a satellite delivery site. The employee died of natural causes (atherosclerosis and hypertension cardiovascular disease).”
- Case 6: May 2013 – Just after breakfast on May 5, 2013, an employee “was delivering side to a resident using a forklift to offload it from the delivery vehicle. The worker “left [and was] taken to an area hospital, where he was treated for fractures of the fourth vertebrae with paralysis below the neck. The employee system remained hospitalized.”
- Case 7: May 2017 – A delivery worker operating a delivery vehicle struck an oncoming truck. On the early afternoon of May 9, 2017, a delivery worker was traveling on a local highway to make a delivery. While navigating a left-hand curve, “the truck crossed the centerline and struck an eastbound chip truck. The initial report did not provide specifications or contain any descriptions of injuries.”
In many of these incidences, equipment or material shifted or broke free while the vehicle was moving to its next destination. Others involved improperly loaded cargo loosely secured by individuals without sufficient training on how to properly secure every piece of cargo using a variety of equipment including load straps, vertical support, and load bars.
What to Do
Numerous workplace safety tips can minimize the potential risk of being injured on the job at FedEx or any other delivery service company. Some of these include:
- Inspect the Delivery Truck – Before the truck driver leaves with a loaded trailer, it is imperative to inspect the delivery truck to help identify any unsafe condition before a simple problem turns into a catastrophic event. Minimizing problems requires checking the headlights, running lights, reversed lights, tire inflation, tire damage, tire wear and tear, seatbelt function, and if the load is secured properly throughout the truck or trailer.
- Use Safe Lifting Practices – Handling heavy loads brought in by semi-trucks and placed on delivery trucks require the best safety lifting practices to minimize the potential harm and injury to the worker. The safety practices include using the best tools, ramps, and dollies intake the easiest route from the trailer to the loading dock. Other practices involve:
- Inspect the area for trip hazards and potential slip areas,
- Lift the packages smoothly with a strong, secure hold
- Smoothly set the cargo down to prevent jarring
- Brake often to maintain control and minimize the potential dangers to others in the work environment
- Identify the Best Practices – It is imperative never to jump off the back of the delivery truck to avoid any knee injury. Other best practices that workers should follow include:
- Use Proper Footwear Only – Wearing safety footwear can help maintain traction when working on slippery tread plate floors and unloading ramps.
- Verify that the trailer being loaded can hold the forklifts weight while transporting heavy pallets on-and-off the ramp.
- Remain Alert When Operating a Forklift – Driving cargo into the back of an empty trailer could cause the back of the trailer to sink when the weight of the forklift carrying heavy cargo enters the area.
- Use Landing Gear – If the semi-trailer is equipped with landing gear, it is crucial to use it before the forklift travels in and out of the trailer.
- Always avoid working areas where a forklift is unloading the delivery truck to minimize the possibility of being hit, crushed or injured.
- Never allow the truck to leave the dock until the cargo in the trailer is sufficiently secured to prevent shifting.
- Drive Defensively – Semi truck drivers, airline pilots, and delivery truck drivers need to remain alert at all times and never operate their vehicle while fatigued. Drivers can pull off the road to rest, and others can slow their delivery truck down when curing a heavy load to ensure there is sufficient distance to come to a complete stop when required. Driving defensively also includes:
- Always wearing a safety belt
- Never tailgating because the truck is probably very heavy and will not have sufficient time to stop without hitting the vehicle ahead.
- Always slow down during times of heavy traffic.
- Avoid creating any distracting event by talking on a smartphone, using an iPod, carrying on an excessive conversation with passengers, consuming food and water while driving, or operating the vehicle while intoxicated.
If you believe that your existing control practices in the work environment are not affected to meet the requirements of maintaining safety, it is essential to speak up, so the management understands your life could be in danger. A discussion with the management can help determine if the movements of the pallet jacks and forklifts place others at risk of injury. Management can then replace unsafe equipment or train the employees on how to operate machinery in the safest manner possible.
The worker should learn to use safe lifting techniques and moving procedures when handling awkward loads or heavy cargo. Managers should advise the employee to avoid breathing toxic exhaust fumes that can gather in an enclosed area when the victim is standing close to the vehicle. When necessary, protect the hands and arms by using chemical-resistant gloves, or barrier cream. Receive training on how to recognize a threat of violence, hazardous condition, or other incident requires summoning assistance.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Accident Injury Claim
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