Transportation worker falls from truck lacking safety devices

Michael Morgenstern

Written by
— Updated on October 3, 2017

pickup truckThis case involves a thirty-five-year-old male employee of a city transportation system in the Northwest. His job required him to drive a very large pickup truck to and from various job sites. The door sill to the truck cab was 36 inches above the ground. The truck had no safety railing or step to assist with entering and exiting. While exiting the vehicle on a routine trip, the employee slipped, twisted his leg and suffered significant injury. He underwent complex and repeated surgeries to repair the damage to his knee and leg. He is no longer able to work or get around on his own. He cannot participate in the sports and activities that he used to enjoy with his children. The worker previously played Division 1 college football for Texas A&M University and maintained a high level of athleticism up until his accident. Today, he remains in constant pain as a result of the injuries and has been unable to lead an active lifestyle.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • Are you familiar with any government standards requiring workplace vehicles, like the one described above, to have stairs or a railing for safe entry and exit?

Expert Witness Response E-000398

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have regulations that may be applicable in this case. For example, regulations require that a truck’s side-step be no higher than 24 inches above the ground. Additionally, a hand-hold must be provided. Add-on sidesteps and handrails are affordable and widely available from vehicle manufacturers. They also can be custom made. Such additions can easily be fitted to virtually any truck to aid in safe entry and exit. Implementation of a hand-hold and sidesteps may have likely prevented this accident from occurring.

This expert is renowned for his work. He has more than 40 years of experience in the vehicle safety industry and has helped develop safety devices and regulations. He is the owner and principal of an auto safety and design consulting firm and has qualified and testified as an expert in auto safety cases in federal and state courts across the nation. He also has testified at Congressional hearings. This expert has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Annual World Traffic Safety Symposium, as well as with the Personal Recognition Award by the Industrial Designers Society of America.

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