At Class A Drivers, we always stress that truck drivers are always at the forefront of safety. Of course, everyone knows that skilled and cautious drivers with 80,000-pound rigs are essential to the safety of drivers on the road as well as themselves.
But when hauling HAZMAT or other potentially dangerous freight, truckers can potentially be responsible for the safety of everyone in a town or city or country. And even if the driver isn’t liable, a truck driver can use a keen eye to spot potential issues.
Take the example of toxic leakage in Los Angeles.
The trucking company Wiley Sanders Truck Lines was recently sued by LA County for $1.8 million dollars and lost because of the manner in which they hauled battery casings.
Wiley Sanders was tasked with hauling battery casings from Exide to a plastic facility, presumably for recycling. Along the way, these casings started to leak lead and arsenic into the soil, the roads,the highways, and other heavily-populated areas.
According to Hilda Solis, L.A. County supervisor, “Wiley Sanders endangered the health and safety of so many families”.
Who is Exide?
Exide was a battery-recycling company in California. The company shut down back in 2015 when they were caught illegally storing and transporting hazardous waste. They were guilty of a pattern of leaks for over twenty years!
The U.S. attorney’s office gave Exide two options: Shut down and clean up the known contaminated areas; or go to jail. Exide opted to shut down.
But what the U.S. attorney and L.A. County didn’t know at the time was how far the hazardous material spread. As a result, contaminated areas from Vernon to Bakersville continued to spread harm among these communities. And that resulted in the $1.8 million lawsuit.
According to The Department of Public Health,that $1.8 million will be used to further address contamination concerns and issues. Nevertheless, that is a big chunk out of Wiley Sanders’ profits. And more than likely Exide isn’t the only company out there with shoddy safety practices.
So as a truck driver, you may be wondering what this has to do with you. One word: Everything.
Truck drivers are on the front lines for environmental and health safety. By noticing and reporting dangerous signs, such as leaks, foul smells, or damaged drum barrels, truckers can greatly reduce risks of contamination.
You may have heard the phrase, “If you see something, say something.” But for HAZMAT, you should add, “If you smell something, say something.”
Truck drivers can reduce the odds of others getting exposed, such as small children who are particularly at-risk. And this applies to all truckers, not just those hauling HAZMATS or driving tanker trucks.
Remember, it’s easy to see what Exide was up to now. But if truckers working at Wiley Sanders alerted authorities before Exide shut down, over 20 years of contamination would not have occurred. So be careful about what you’re hauling out there.