If you drive a dry van like I do, you know the familiar sound of a whistle from the back of the trailer near the dock door, usually signaling you are unloaded. What follows is usually a walk to the back of the trailer to receive your signed bills and away you go onto your next load. The repetition and complacency that can come with this mundane routine is enough to catch anyone off guard, myself in a recent instance included!
So there I found myself in that familiar situation, so I set my phone down into its cup holder, safely stepped down from my cab, and began a purposeful walk towards the rear of my trailer through the narrow space between my trailer and another unloading next to me. About a third of the way back, however, I was abruptly stopped dead in my tracks, as my shoulder caught on an unknown something with the force of someone pulling me from behind. Not wanting to keep the unloader waiting, I quickly shook it off and continued to get my signed bills from him without missing a beat.
As I walked back to my truck cab though, I searched for what it was that caught my shoulder and had put a large gash in the shoulder part of my work shirt. There it was, visible at just the right angle when the sunlight hit it, an aluminum burr approximately 3” long sticking out from the trailer unloading next to me. Disbelief and shock came over me instantly when I realized that I was within the thickness of my shirt from opening my shoulder clear open with the equivalent of a 3” knife almost slicing me! Even though complacency had got the best of me to an extent, I realized that it also was not blatantly obvious, since at a certain angle it blended in with the rest of the aluminum it was protruding from.
The lesson I always preach, to always be aware of your surroundings, proved that day to not only be applicable in dangerous situations, but even in the light of day when all seems well and fine! Add variety to your routine if that’s what it takes to not become complacent and watch what is around you at all times. Whether it’s looking out for things to not trip over, or looking out for objects that could impale you, make sure your comfortable daily routine does not get the best of you!