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Heavy-Truck and Lorry Driver

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Synonyms: Driver, truck/heavy; lorry driver; road-transport driver; teamster; trailer-truck driver; truck driver, heavy; trucker; truckman/woman

Job profile

Definition and/or description


Drives truck with capacity of more than 3 tonnes, to transport materials to and from specified destinations. Drives truck to destination, applying knowledge of commercial driving regulations and area roads. Prepares receipts for loads picked up. Collects payment for goods delivered and for delivery charges. May maintain truck log, according to applicable regulations. May maintain telephone or radio contact with supervisor to receive delivery instructions. May load and unload truck. May inspect truck equipment and supplies, such as tyres, lights, brakes, gas, oil and water. May perform emergency roadside repairs, such as changing tyres, installing light bulbs, tyre chains and spark plugs. May position blocks and tie rope around items to secure cargo during transit. When driving truck equipped for specific purposes, such as fighting fires, digging holes and installing and repairing utility company lines, may be designated Fire-truck Driver (petrol & gas); Hole-digger-truck Driver (construction; tel. & tel.; utilities). When specializing in making deliveries, may be designated Delivery-truck Driver, Heavy (any industry). May be designated according to type of truck driven as Truck Driver, Flatbed (logging). May be designated according to kind of cargo transported as Water Hauler (logging) (DOT).

Related and specific occupations


Truck driver, light (including food-service driver; liquid-fertilizer driver, etc.); concrete-mixing-truck driver; dump-truck driver; truck driver, inflammables (including explosives truck driver; powder-truck driver; tank-truck driver, etc.); trailer-truck driver (including tractor-trailer-truck driver; log-truck driver; semi-trailer or full-trailer driver, etc.); truck driver, heavy (including milk driver/hauler; garbage collector driver; watertruck driver; van driver, etc.); bus, tram (streetcar) and trolley-bus drivers.



Adjusting; applying; arranging; assembling; assisting; attaching; banding; braking; camping; carrying; changing; checking; cleaning; collecting; communicating; computing; connecting and disconnecting; controlling; delivering; digging; directing; disengaging; dispatching; disposing; distributing; dividing; documenting; driving; dumping; elevating; emptying; examining; fastening; filling; fueling; gauging; greasing; handling; hauling; hoisting; honking; inspecting; jerking; lifting; loading and unloading; locating (shipment addresses); logging; lubricating; maintaining; manoeuvring; measuring; mending; metering; mixing; monitoring; moving; observing; operating; overseeing; packing and unpacking; padding; parking; performing; placing; positioning; preparing; pulling and pushing; pumping; raising; reading; recording; recovering; refilling; registering; regulating; releasing; repairing; replacing; reporting; reversing; roping; sampling; securing; servicing; serving; spraying; sprinkling; stacking; steering; sterilizing (milk containers); storing; submitting; supervising; testing; towing; transporting; tying; warning; washing; wrapping; wrenching; writing.


Accident hazards


– Increased risk of road accidents due to lengthy driving periods (especially for transcontinental and other long-haul truck drivers), including night driving, driving under unfavourable weather conditions, under bad road conditions and through excessive traffic jams (risk is increased due to driver’s physical and mental fatigue and boredom resulting from long driving hours, short rest periods, drowsiness, irregular eating and bad diet habits, excessive alcohol drinking, driving at high speeds due to the bonus payment system, etc.);

– Road accidents due to loss of control while driving heavily loaded truck on steep and slippery roads at extreme temperatures and other climatic conditions;

– Road accidents due to driving while using tranquilizers, chemical stimulants or drugs against common diseases whose side effects include drowsiness, sleepiness and alertness-reducing impairment of sensomotoric functions (especially delayed reaction and inadequate coordination);

– Overturning of heavily loaded truck due to mechanical failure, difficult road conditions and/or excessive speed, head-on collisions, etc., with resulting life-threatening trapping of driver inside cabin or under the truck;

– Accidents caused by uncoupling of the locking device securing the tractor to the trailer;

– Slips, trips and falls from a high cabin, cabin ladder or trailer;

– Danger of being crushed between tractor and trailer, or between trailers, while trying to disengage one from another;

– Injuries due to accidental bumping into unguarded rigid parts of truck or cargo;

– Injuries while performing various functions of a heavy truck driver (e.g., field repair work, tyre change, unfastening tight bands and ropes, etc.);

– Injuries using various maintenance and repair tools: wrenches, knives, jacks, etc.;

– Explosions, chemical burns, acute poisoning by toxic chemicals, impaired vision, etc., caused by hazardous cargo, such as explosives and inflammables, strong reactives, toxic substances and dust-forming bulk solids;

– Acute poisoning by exhaust gases, including carbon monoxide;

– Fire hazards as a result of spills and leaks of inflammables (usually in tank trucks) that may ignite on contact with open flame, hot surfaces, electric sparks, atmospheric or electrostatic discharges, or as a result of mechanical shock following road collision, overturning, etc. (the hazard is also to the environment);

– Explosion of over-inflated tyres;

– Traumas, such as hernia rupture, due to physical overexertion (changing tyres, moving heavy pieces of cargo, fastening ropes, etc.).

Physical hazards


– Exposure to prolonged excessive engine noise of high amplitude (greater than 80 dBA) and/or low frequency, resulting in early (severe headache) or delayed (hearing loss, etc.) detrimental effects;

– Exposure to ionizing radiation while transporting radioisotopes (frequently kept, for security reasons, inside the driver’s cabin);

– Exposure to direct and reflected ultraviolet (solar) radiation;

– Exposure to potentially health-detrimental climatic factors, such as extreme cold or heat, or combinations of temperature, humidity and wind, resulting in frostbite or heat stroke;

– Exposure to sudden ambient temperature changes when leaving and entering the climatic-conditioned cabin, resulting in colds and/or rheumatic effects;

– Whole-body vibrations that may impair functions of chest and abdominal organs and musculoskeletal system, contribute to driver’s fatigue and decrease his/her alertness.

Chemical hazards


– Exposure to various toxic substances (in solid, liquid, or gaseous state) while transporting hazardous cargo (a few thousand substances, classified by the United Nations into 9 groups: explosives, gases, inflammable liquids, inflammable solids, oxidizing substances, poisonous and infectious substances, radioactive substances, corrosives, miscellaneous hazardous substances) that may result in chronic health-detrimental effects, including carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, etc.;

– Skin diseases and conditions (various types of dermatitis, skin sensitization, eczema, oil acne, etc.) caused by exposure to chemicals (e.g., cleaning and rinsing compounds, antifreeze and brake fluids, gasoline, diesel oil, oils, etc.);

– Chronic effects caused by inhalation of gasoline or diesel-fuel fumes and exhaust gases containing carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides (NOx), hydrocarbons, etc.

Biological hazards


Contamination and infection caused by exposure to biologically hazardous cargo.

Ergonomic and social factors


– Low back pain and pains in the joints (of legs and hands/arms) caused by prolonged driving, sometimes over bumpy roads, and/or inadequate seats;

– Rheumatic disorders (including sinistral scapulohumeral arthrosis or periarthritis) due to the habit of resting elbow on the window frame during driving;

– Digestive tract disorders caused by irregular eating and poor dietary habits;

– Hypnotic hallucinations during periods of drowsiness and psychic disorders caused by mental and emotional stress factors;

– Increased incidence of myocardial infarction among obese drivers;

– Smoking inside cabin, contributing to health deterioration;

– Visual discomfort and eye problems caused by inadequate illumination and eyestrain (especially when driving at dark time on interurban roads);

– Exposure to peer violence (e.g., in roadside cafeterias, etc.) and to petty and gang (including organized) crime attracted by valuable cargo (especially when driving in countries with inadequate law enforcement);

– Development of lumbago caused by vibrations, inadequate vehicle suspension, uncomfortable seats, etc.;

– Pathologic changes and premature ageing of the lumbosacral part of the spine, which may cause accelerated creation of intervertebral lumbar discs (also possibly related to routine handling of heavy loads);

– Increased chances of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (especially in the group of long-haul drivers spending long periods of time away from home).



International Labour Organization (ILO). 1972. Working Conditions and Safety Provisions Applying to Persons Employed in Road Transport. Inland Transport Committee, 9th Session. Geneva: ILO.

—. 1977. Hours of Work and Rest Periods in Road-transport. Report VII(1), International Labour Conference, 64th Session. Geneva: ILO.



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