How to Enter and Exit Large Vehicles Safely

People who drive or work on large trucks, forklifts, firetrucks, farm equipment and other vehicles are at risk of slipping and falling due to the height of the cabs and bodies of these vehicles. Incorrectly entering or exiting these vehicles poses a risk of injury, particularly slips and falls. Slips and falls cause one in five injuries to commercial drivers. Knee, ankle and back injuries often result from failing to take proper precautions or stepping out onto uneven or wet surfaces.

The most important rule to follow while entering and exiting large vehicles is the “Three Point Rule:” keep at least three of your four feet and hands on the vehicle as you get in or out. In other words, keep at least two feet and one hand, or both hands and one foot in contact with the vehicle.

How to Maintain Safe Vehicles
  • Inspect vehicle steps and hand rails to make sure they are safe and usable.
  • Install non-stick steps and hand rails as needed.
  • Keep steps, ladders, deck plates, catwalks and rails free of ice, snow, debris and grease.
  • Put up warning stickers and posters to remind workers of Three Point Rule.
  • Provide training for drivers and workers in the Three Point Rule (required by the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Regulations.)
  • Encourage employees to check all rails and footholds before beginning their shift.
  • Encourage employees to work on brakes from the ground instead of catwalks and deckplates. If they must work above ground, make sure clean, non-slip surfaces are available.
How to Enter and Exit Safely
  • Keep the floor of your cab clean of trash and loose wires that could trip you up on exit.
  • Look at the surface you are going to step down onto to make sure it is not slippery or uneven. Look for water, oil, grease, snow, ice, potholes or other hazards.
  • Face the cab while entering and exiting.
  • Grip hand rails firmly. Use gloves with grips in winter to reduce slipping from ice and snow.
  • Instead of carrying items out of the cab with you while you get down, place them on the vehicle floor to retrieve when you are out.
  • Never jump out of the cab or off a trailer! Landing on an uneven surface can cause injury.
  • Tires and wheel hubs should not be used as steps.
  • Doors and door frames are not good supports to hold onto.
  • Steering wheels are not good supports due to the risk that they might turn suddenly, even if you believe they are locked.
  • Wear solid shoes with good treads to reduce the risk of slipping.
  • Take extra precautions in wet, snowy or icy conditions.
  • Remember that rounded surfaces such as tires, wheel hubs and fuel tanks are slippery at the best of times but become much more dangerous when wet or icy.